[Reading] Toshokan Sensō

Toshokan Senso or Library Wars cover
Toshokan Senso or Library Wars cover

Novel title: Toshokan Sensō
Author: Hiro Arikawa
Original Run: 2006 – 2007

Plot: A girl joins the elite Library Task Force to protect books and chase after the man who inspired her to join. Along the way, you realise the kind of concessions one makes to be an adult, and just how refreshing it is to see it being spelled out plainly instead of full of melodrama and long monologues that most people would be out of breath actually practising.

Rating: Five out of Five

Rationale: I’ve read some other Japanese light novels that have been translated. They tend to be error-free, or at least to a minimum, but what usually irks me about them is how unnatural the language is. It is no one’s fault; in most cases, I would usually ascribe it to the translator’s naivete or inexperience. Most translations that irk me either have simple grammar structures or sounds stilted.

The translation I’m reading of Toshokan Sensō is tentatively a fan one. Someone actually took the trouble to get their hands on the original books and then translated them for a manga-reading audience. They also managed to keep, I think, the language of the novel without turning it into something else entirely.

I really enjoy reading this series. Part of it is because I enjoy the characters and the plot. A larger part though, comes from enjoying a well-made book. I love the characters and settings of Arikawa-sensei’s books, but I love melithiel’s translations equally as well.

However, it is the principles that these Librarians stand for that pull me in.

Books are sacred. They contain ideas, thoughts, and perhaps most importantly, experiences wrapped up in stories. A book you read, a book enjoyed, a book savoured, even a book discarded, all of them leave a mark on you. It’s inedible. We may wish that some books were never written, but books, once published, should not be censored.

However, there are those who insist such things should be censored. That all reading materials should be inspected and censored to fit the sensibilities of these small-minded people (I wonder how many of them read for pleasure, as opposed to reading for image?).

It is against this backdrop that Toshokan Sensō takes place. The Librarians defend reading materials against the Media Betterment Committee, which seeks to censor such things. Raids happen unexpectedly, leading to books travelling under armed guards, with attacks on public libraries to remove such books and materials from locations the public could gain access to.

It sounds ridiculous, but it really isn’t. It speaks to me as a reader, of fears what book banning will bring, what it might do to a society. Of a world where “A world where the library didn’t have to take up arms to defend itself.”

Aka a world where the freedom to read, not to express, but merely READ is curtailed so strongly.

Go read Toshokan Sensō. If you love books, you owe it to yourself to do so.

[Quickie] Things I learnt this Raya

Image of Japanese dolls taken in the new Sony Centre at CurveImage of Japanese dolls taken in the new Sony Centre at Curve

Didn’t expect 48 hours to teach me new things about my city:

  • MidValley was insane about lunchtime on Saturday, the second day of Raya. Decided to go to Curve and park in Cineleisure, which leads to:
  • If even CINELEISURE is full, give up and go somewhere else. For us, we had the pick of the carpark and then:
  • When parking in Cineleisure (aka e@Curve if you want to Google them), always drive along the entire length of B1, which is where you’ll come in. The first section will ALWAYS be full, but if you drive over closer to the exit where you take the ramp up to the Ground Floor parking you’ll find plenty of space to park which makes me conclude:
  • Most people are inefficient. You’ll take the first parking you see without realising there’s better parking spaces closer to the shopping mall entrances and then:
  • Even more people are just simply lazy. There was a mini jam outside of the area because everyone was DETERMINED to park as close as possible to their favourite mall. Saving 10 steps is apparently more important than saving RM3 worth of petrol, and that makes me think:
  • Timing is everything. I reached Ikea about 2.30pm like that and it was madness. We decided to head out for some tea instead. Came back to Ikea about 5pm and there was like 50% less people, aka I could BREATHE which lead to the next day’s weirdness of:
  • Mid Valley being almost EMPTY on a Sunday afternoon. There was NO JAM at all when I went there at about 1pm. Heck, even the parking lots were green.

Madness, I tell you.

Selamat Hari Raya

Selamat Hari Raya

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri! Maaf zahir dan batin.

A very happy Raya to all Muslims. I apologise for any offense inadvertently given over the past year.

I know I was supposed to put up another BAH entry, but since it’s Raya tomorrow, we’re taking a holiday too! BAH returns next week, featuring a very Magical Mars Bars!

[BAH] Gaming your procrastination habit

A shocked Scottish Fold kitty representing Kyp Lim
A shocked Scottish Fold kitty representing Kyp Lim

Kyp Lim is a scientifikitty, based in Perth. He’s very fluffy, as evidenced by his Steam gamer ID of crazysheep_. However, he’s also got a chronic problem with procrastination. So to combat one aspect of his procrastination, he started livestreaming his games. This is his walkthrough.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I’m a hooman Purr purr.

Q: At least tell us what kind of kitty you are. -_-
A: A cute little Scottish Fold.

Q: So tell us a bit about your gaming history.
A: Well, I started gaming when we got our first PC, and it’s pretty much only intensified ever since. I cut my teeth on early Command and Conquer games, continued into more games from the RTS genre, and then segued into DotA quite some time later. Meanwhile regular Steam sales exposed me to many, many other fun games… which brings us to this discussion here, I guess.

Kitty's Gaming Library
Kitty’s Gaming Library

Q: When did you realise you had a gaming problem?
A: I-It’s not a p-problem- coughs nervously Well, I guess it’s more of a digital dust collection thing, similar to book collections. The kind where you buy cheap, promising books in bulk from warehouse sales and never touch more than half of them. It’s a similar thing with my games – I look at my Steam library and realise that I haven’t touched… probably two-thirds of them, having invested money and hard disc space on them?

Q: Why livestreaming?
A: Funny story, this. It actually started off as a challenge on Twitter – I don’t remember the specifics now – except that one day, three poor souls decided to make Twitch accounts and do a livestream each. I liked the initial experience of just showing off my playstyle and however bad it might be, so I made it a point to stream regularly from then on.

When I completed my XCOM achievements, and was looking for a new game to fill the livestreaming void, I realised that I could try and finish my game collection by playing it on air, so that I’d kill two birds with one stone: chew through my game collection while showing off different games (and hopefully drag in some viewers while I’m at it).

Q: How is it going so far?
A: So far so good, I guess. I can’t really tell, partly because I haven’t compared my progress with others, nor found any yardstick to figure out how I’m doing.

Q: How long has it been since you’ve started, and how many games have you attempted (and finished!)?
A: I think it’s about nine months since I started, I might be wrong on this. In that time, I’ve cleared three games, and I’m currently making good progress on two others. At this rate, I might finish in… ten years, I think? I haven’t really given that much thought. What matters to me now is that I’m actually making progress on clearing out my game backlog.

Q: What have you been playing?
A: Whatever looks the most fun in my library. Right now, that honour is shared between Spec Ops: The Line and Prison Architect. (Writer’s note: Prison Architect’s on Wednesday nights, UTC +8, and Spec Ops’ on weekends, same timezone)

Q: Have you ever abandoned a game?
A: So far, not yet. Fingers crossed it’ll stay that way.

Q: Ever fallen off the wagon? What did you do to get back up?
A: Since instituting the livestreaming schedule, I haven’t fallen off the wagon yet, some sort of devotion to the viewers, if I may say so. There was a brief interruption around February when we were in the process of switching internet providers, but other than that I haven’t abandoned the plan.

Q: Any advice for those attempting to tackle their gaming procrastination?
A: Perseverance will get you over the line, wherever that may be :P

Thank you for your time. Catch Kitty gaming his procrastination habit here!

[Review] The Taste of Water

The Taste of Water poster from TimeOut Malaysia

“It’s like trying to explain the taste of water. You know how it’s like and I know how it’s like but why can’t we just say it to each other? This is the thesis statement of the play,” explains Wong. – From The Taste of Water happening at KLPac

And that is pretty much the Taste of Water in a nutshell. This play follows a year in the life of new college students Janet and Lily Tan in Monash U, Sunway (no, they are not sisters or related to each other). There’s the independence thing of living away from family for the first time, of dealing with religion, with friends and family…

But where Taste of Water really excels is in showing how messy living is. Like really messy. From love to school life, to dealing with family. There were so many things that could have gone wrong in this play, but everyone pulled it off wonderfully. The entire production team elevated what was a good script to a masterpiece of Malaysian theatre.

Here, have a podcast about it, but listen especially to the second half. This is what theatre in Malaysia should be.

TL;DR final rating is 11/10. 4 to good writing, 4 to epic acting that brought the entire thing to an incredibly high level, 2 to set, and another star all on its own to the music, which is just crazy beautiful.

Go watch it. Get your tickets here (there’s discounts on certain days).