Vendredi nature [002.020.087]

Megaladapis edwardsi & Panthera leo leo

IMG_5596

[ iPhone 8+, Musée de la Civilisation de Québec, 2019/06/26 ]

Lémurien de Madagascar, Holocène [c. -8000 à -2000 AEC], Natural History Museum of London (à gauche)

Crâne d’un lion de Barbarie de la Tour de Londres, R.-U., Holocène (c. XIII-XIVe s.), Natural History Museum of London (à droite)

De la cinquantaine d’espèce de lémuriens de Madagascar, dix-sept ont disparu avec l’arrivée des premiers humains il y a au moins quatre mille ans. On voit ici (à gauche), le crâne d’un spécimen de l’une de ces espèces disparues, qui atteignait une taille impressionnante (1.2 m). Le Megaladapis edwardsi est une espèce du genre Megaladapis qui était similaire au koala. Elle appartient à la famille des Megaladapidae et de l’ordre des Primates. (Sources: Fiche signalétique de l’exposition, Wikipedia [FR / EN]).

Le spécimen de droite a été déterré dans les douves de la Tour de Londres en 1937. Il s’agit d’un lion de Barbarie, originaire de l’Afrique du Nord, qui appartenait sans doute à une ménagerie d’animaux exotiques conservée pour divertir la cour à une époque où la Tour servait encore de palais royale (probablement au XIIIe siècle). Il était caractérisé par une impressionnante crinière, plus volumineuse et plus sombre que le lion africain. C’est une sous-espèce du Panthera leo, appartenant au genre Panthera, à la famille des Felidae et à l’ordre Carnivora. (Sources: Fiche signalétique de l’exposition, Wikipedia [FR / EN]).

J’ai pris cette photo en visitant l’exposition “Curiosités du monde naturel” qui se tenait au Musée de la Civilisation de Québec du 16 mai 2019 au 19 janvier 2020. J’en ai déjà parlé dans mes plus récents billets “Vendredi nature” (002.020.017024, 031038045052059066 et 080). Voir aussi le vidéo memento de ma visite.

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GITS: Stand Alone Complex Official Log, Vol. 1

GITS-SAC-Official-Log-1This superb book is an Official Guide to the Stand Alone Complex TV series and offers an in-depth analysis of the background story as well as the production development. It features an introduction to the Ghost In The Shell’s world (manga, movies, video games, etc.), character profiles and designs, mechanical designs, synopses and background notes for the first 19 episodes, interviews with the creative staff and an essay on the science of Ghost In The Shell. It also includes an exclusive 90-min. DVD with never-before-seen footage, a documentary on the digital animation techniques used for the series and more interviews with the staff and cast.

This type of high-quality art book usually comes in a larger format, but if the 6 x 8.5 inches size is more practical it also means fewer and smaller illustrations presented in a more cramped layout. Still, the Official Log is quite useful when it comes to better understanding the complex story of the Ghost In The Shell TV series. It is a must-have for all serious anime fans!  

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Official Log, Vol. 1 (by collective; editor, Robert Place Napton). [Cypress, CA] : Bandai / Manga Entertainment / Production I.G., October 2005. 148 pages (64 in colour) [DVD: Cat.# 25180, Subtitled, 90 min.]; Limited Edition (only 15,000 copy released), $49.98 US, rated 13+, ISBN: 1-59409-571-X. stars-4-0

Review originally published in PA #87 : 63 (December 2005 / January 2006). There is also a second volume but I haven’t seen it and therefore cannot comment on it. The book is old but seems to still be available online.

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Capsules

Ghost In The Shell (manga)

I’ll continue on the thematic of Ghost in the shell for a little while… I dug out those two reviews of the original GITS manga respectively published in PA #83: 20 (March-April 2005) and PA #84: 20 (June-July 2005) — however I have relativized the original rating. Note that I had already (briefly) reviewed those manga along with the live-action movie and that I have also reviewed The Ghost in the Shell Perfect Edition, tome 1.5 : [ Human Error Processer ] on this blog.

Ghost In The Shell

Ghost_in_the_shell-1-covA totally superb book! This second edition offers the original Japanese size (5.75” x 8.25” which is a smaller, more convenient size than the original English edition, but still easy to read contrary to the 4” x 6” of Lone Wolf & Cub) and some extra pages that were originally cut because they were too racy (hence the 18+ rating and the parental advisory for explicit content). It is a nice thick book, with glossy paper, that has a good feel when held. Shirow’s artwork might be of variable quality, varying from the beautiful colour illustrations to the sketchy SD characters, but his story is solid and profound (although a little too technical by moments). Most of this first volume offers the framework for the first movie (with some variations and more details), but you can also find a few ideas that were used for the Stand Alone Complex TV series, and the sixth chapter is the basis for the story of the second movie. A classic and a must. 

Ghost in the shell (攻殻機動隊 / Kōkaku Kidōtai / Mobile Armored Riot Police) by Masamune Shirow (translated by Frederik L Schodt and Toren Smith). Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Manga, October 2004. 368 pg. $24.95 US / $33.99 Can. ISBN 1-59307-228-7. For adult readership (18+). See the back cover. stars-3-5

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Capsules

Ghost In The Shell #2: Man-Machine Interface

Ghost_in_the_shell-2-covLike the first volume, this one is really a superb book. Even more than the first, since there is three time more colour pages, the designs are much nicer and the art is more detailed (particularly in the colour pages – however, a problem in the reproduction of the screen-tone sometimes creates an annoying shimmering effect in the B&W art). It is a more mature work. The story is more serious and complex, to the point that it becomes difficult to follow and understand. That’s the major drawback of the book. Motoko has merged with the Puppet Master and swims freely in the virtual sea of information. She has moved to the private sector and works as the head of security for Poseidon Industrial. Her new nature allows her to move from one artificial body to another, which is quite convenient in her line of work, but makes the story even more confusing. On top of that you have Shirow’s philosophical reflection on life, intelligence and existence. Besides the main character, the story of this book has not much to do with the first part. The art is sublime and the story challenging. A must. 

Ghost In The Shell #2: Man-Machine Interface, by Masamune Shirow (translated by Frederik L Schodt and Toren Smith). Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Manga, January 2005. 312 pages (mostly in colour, with 106 in B&W), flipped, $24.95 US / $32.00 Can, ISBN 978-1-59307-204-9. For adult readership (18+, Lots of nudity & Violence). See the back cover. stars-4-0

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Capsules

Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex (manga)

“Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex takes place in the year 2030, in the fictional Japanese city of New Port. The story follows the members of Public Security Section 9, a special-operations task-force made up of former military officers and police detectives. The manga presents individual cases that Section 9 investigates, along with an ongoing, more serious investigation into the serial killer and hacker known only as “The Laughing Man.””

GITS-SAC-1-covVolume 1: No mission too dangerous. No case too cold. When a high-ranking government official is kidnapped, the Prime Minister must call in his top crime fighting force known as Section 9. Led by the beautiful (and deadly) Major Kusanagi, the cybernetically enhanced squad must use all their skill to take down the kidnappers and rescue the hostages. But that’s only half of the mission; can Kusanagi and company find out who’s behind the kidnapping, and, more importantly, just what they’re after? Find out in this thrilling first volume of The Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex!”

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Episode 1: Section 9, by Yu Kinutani. New York: Kodansha Comics, December 2016. 256 pages, 12.5 x 19 cm, $US 10.99 / $C 11.99, ISBN 978-1-935-42985-2, For teenagers (13+). See back cover. 

GITS-SAC-2-covVolume 2: The best offense is a strong defence? An advanced tech tank is on the loose and appears hell bent on heading into the city. To make matters worse, it has impenetrable defenses and all conventional efforts to stop its progress have failed. Now it’s up to Major Kusanagi and Section 9 to find a way to stop the tank’s inexorable march toward an unknown fate in the city!”

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Episode 2: Testation, by Yu Kinutani. New York: Kodansha Comics, December 2016. 288 pages, 12.5 x 19 cm, $US 10.99 / $C 11.99, ISBN 978-1-935-42986-9, For teenagers (13+). See back cover. 

GITS-SAC-3-cov“Volume 3: Identifying the enigmatic hero. Marcelo Jarti, the hero of a democratic revolution, and South American drug dealer, has been coming to Japan periodically and no one knows why. The Major and Section 9 track his movements after he makes his latest appearance in the country. They are determined to figure out the meaning of his visits, but following Jarti leads to more than they could have possibly expected …”

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Episode 3: Idolator, by Yu Kinutani. New York: Kodansha Comics, December 2016. 224 pages, 12.5 x 19 cm, $US 10.99 / $C 11.99, ISBN 978-1-612-62094-7, For teenagers (13+). See back cover. 

GITS-SAC-4-covVolume 4: The power of misdirection. Section 9 receives a tip that a criminal group from Henan is planning on attacking a financial institution. To prevent the attack, Section 9 infiltrates the secret base of the criminals. The mission goes well and the threat is neutralized … or is it? Something is amiss, and Major Kusanagi and Section 9 must act quickly in order to stop the criminals from achieving their true goal.”

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Episode 4: ¥€$, by Yu Kinutani. New York: Kodansha Comics, December 2016. 208 pages, 12.5 x 19 cm, $US 10.99 / $C 11.99, ISBN 978-1-61262-095-4, For teenagers (13+). See back cover. 

GITS-SAC-5-covVolume 5: Ageless new world. 16 years ago a terrorist group called the “New World Brigade” kidnapped a young girl named Eka Tokura. However, recent photos of Eka have surfaced and she appears to look exactly as she did 16 years ago. To investigate this mystery, the special unit of the Maritime Safety Agency was dispatched to a man-made island off the coast of Okinawa that has been seized by the Brigade. However, communication with the special unit has been lost, leaving this island and the Brigade in a shroud of secrets. Section 9 is tasked with the job of finding out what happened on this man-made island and discovering the truth behind Eka’s age-defying looks.”

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Episode 5: Not Equal, by Yu Kinutani. New York: Kodansha Comics, December 2016. 288 pages, 12.5 x 19 cm, $US 10.99 / $C 11.99, ISBN 978-1-61262-556-0, For teenagers (13+). See back cover. 

[Texts from the publisher’s website]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

GITS-SAC-1-p040I have already introduced the Ghost in the shell story created by Masamune Shirow when I talked about the live-action adaptation and the book 1.5 of the manga. However, my favourite part of GITS franchise was the anime TV series Stand Alone Complex. It is a police story with lots of human drama set in a post-cyberpunk environment. The TV series format allowed to make a great deal of character development for all the protagonists, the members of Section 9 Public Security unit. Usually, an anime is based on a manga but exceptionally, in this case, it is the opposite: the anime TV series came first (in 2002-2005) and this manga is a VERY faithful adaptation of a selection of five episodes (out of the fifty-two episodes of the TV series).

The seinen manga of Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex (攻殻機動隊 Stand Alone Complex / Koukaku Kidoutai S.A.C.) was first serialized in Weekly Young Magazine (December 2009 – March 2010) and then in Gekkan [monthly] Young Magazine (April 2010 – December 2012) before being compiled in five volumes by Kodansha. It was translated in English by Kodansha Comics (2011-14) and in French by Glénat (2013-14). The English version is also available in digital format at ComiXology.

I like Ghost in the shell in general because it is a great cyberpunk story: people can get cyber-enhancements, the internet (the “network”) is everything, everywhere and can be used in unimaginable ways. The story also has strong social and political aspects, as it give a glimpse of a fascinating techno-dystopian future (which seems popular in Japan). In this context the “ghost” refer to the aspect of the mind that makes it unique and self-aware (the soul) even when it is digitized and uploaded to a cyber-brain or to the net, the “shell” is the body (biological or cybernetic) and the “standalones” are those who “remain outside the system” (not cyber-enhanced? air-gapped?). 

GITS-SAC-3-p085

Vol. 3, p. 85

However, I prefer the Stand Alone Complex series (both anime and manga) because I feel it offers the best designs (mostly of the characters) and storytelling (its TV series format allows for more development of both the characters and storyline). The anime movie (directed by Mamoru Oshii) was awesome but really too philosophical. By side-stepping the “puppet master” story arc, SAC is able to tell more stories of the most interesting character, Major Motoko Kusanagi, and to develop her background story in a very interesting way. Similarly, the orignal manga by Masamune Shirow is superb but the art is too detailed and the story too complex to be easily enjoyed. Shirow’s art also lacks consistency, looking sometimes very serious and sometimes (to be humorous) quite caricatural. With this new manga by Yu Kinutani the art is cleaner, more serious and steady while still being detailed enough. It is therefore much more enjoyable. The storytelling and layout follow closely the TV series (often even adding more scenes to make the action easier to follow in a static medium) so it almost feels like a storyboard.

Each volume of the manga series is adapting one episode of the TV anime. Volume one retell the story from episode 1 “Section 9”, vol. 2 covers the episode 2 “Testation”, vol. 3 recount the episode 7 “Idolater”, vol. 4 is about the episode 14 “¥€$” and vol. 5 give us its take on the episode 13 “Not Equal”. Volumes 1 and 4 also include three bonus short stories from the “Tachikoma Days” manga by Masayuki Yamamoto. Those are funny episodes involving the multi-legged artificial intelligence tanks (think tanks) called the Tachikoma — echoing the capsule video at the end of each episode of the TV series.

GITS-SAC-3-p205

Vol. 3, p. 205

One annoying thing from Ghost in the shell (mostly for feminists and people unfamiliar with the franchise) is the way the Major is dressing: in a very provocative and sexy way. This is part fan service, of course, but the character has also a reason to do so. A full-cyber body (even if it has a generous feminine shape) feels and looks a bit cold and asexual, therefore the Major wears very alluring clothing to claim and express her femininity.  I imagine she might think something like “with a body like this it’s better to show it” or maybe, feeling a little like a doll, she wants to dress like one. It also offers an element of surprise: nobody expects someone looking like her to be so strong and kick-ass!

Finally, my greatest disappointment about the GITS Stand Alone Complex manga series is that there are only five volumes. I guess it would have taken too much work and time to adapt all fifty-two episodes of the TV series. It is just too bad. However, if you want more, you still have the TV series — which was also complemented by three novels (available from Dark Horse), two OVA (The Laughing Man, Individual Eleven) and a movie (GITS: SAC – Solid State Society)…

I am already a big fan of GITS and of cyberpunk stories, but I particularly like this manga series because it offers strong designs and art, excellent storytelling and constitute an easy read. It is quite enjoyable if you like investigative stories with lots of action (sometime quite violent), rich socio-political themes and that are set in a cyberpunk future. I must admit that it has been a long time since I took so much pleasure in the reading a manga. I highly recommend it. stars-4-5

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

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© 2010-2013 Yu Kinutani • Shirow Masamune • Production I.G. / Kodansha. English translation © 2011-2014 Yu Kinutani • Shirow Masamune • Production I.G. / Kodansha. 

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Image du mer-fleuri [002.020.085]

Phlox paniculéGarden phlox

DSC_1839Une autre exemple de Phlox paniculé (Garden phlox en anglais ou Phlox paniculata en latin). Comme mentionné précédemment, c’est une plante à fleurs de la classe des Magnoliopsida, de l’ordre des Solanales, de la famille des Polemoniaceae et du genre Phlox. Cette fois-ci la fleur est blanche et il s’agit du cultivar “Miss Universe”. (Sources: Wikipedia et plusieurs sites horticoles) [ Translate ]

Livre-en-sac

Avec l’épidémie de Coronavirus et les mesures de distanciation sociale qui en découlent beaucoup de gens se retrouvent isolés chez eux avec pas grand chose à faire sinon d’écouter la télévision, la radio ou de lire. Avec la fermeture des bibliothèques, des librairies et des cinémas, les gens n’ont plus d’opportunités de se procurer de quoi les occuper. Et peu ont la chance d’avoir une grosse collection de livres et de Dvds à la maison (moi, je n’ai rien à craindre, j’ai de quoi m’occuper pour plus d’une décennie si nécessaire!). 

Bien sûr, il reste toujours l’internet où l’on peut télécharger des livres numériques (ebooks / livrels) ou visionner des films en continu (streaming). J’ai récemment mis en ligne une liste de suggestions de sites et de ressources à cet effet. Toutefois, il y a encore beaucoup de gens qui, pour des raison économique, n’ont pas accès à l’internet ou des personnes âgés qui trouvent tout ça un peu trop compliqué. Alors on retrouve plusieurs initiatives sur FB ou ailleurs pour prêter ou donner des livres à ceux qui en ont besoins. Des initiatives dans le genre du projet de microbibliothèques que la ville avait parti en 2015 (j’ignore si ce projet fonctionne encore mais il existe sûrement des projets similaires). Toutefois, aujourd’hui, j’aimerais vous parler d’un projet en particulier.

Dans la région du Grand Lévis, mon neveu — l’auteur Sébastien Chartrand — a décidé d’y aller de sa modeste contribution et de mettre le tier de sa collection personnelle (quelques deux-mille livres) disponible pour prêter à ceux qui en ont désespérément besoin. Il a démarré un site internet — le Livrensac de Lévis — où il explique son projet et donne la liste des titres disponibles. Les livres sont désinfectés à la lingette Lysol et placés dans un sac ziploc avant d’être livré à la porte ou dans la boîte aux lettres de ceux qui en font la demande! C’est une initiative tellement intéressante que même le journal local, le journal de Lévis, y consacre un article ! 

Il m’écrivait ce matin:

“J’aurais aimé pouvoir montrer à tout le monde le visage radieux des personnes âgées qui m’envoyaient la main par la fenêtre durant ma livraison de samedi, et le garçon qui sautillait sur place quand j’ai déposé ma pile de BD sur le pas de la porte…”

“J’espère vraiment que je vais réussir à rejoindre un maximum de gens isolés. Je demande aux gens de faire connaître. Ça va réduire, peut-être, l’envie de sortir de certains entêtés et donner envie à d’autres personnes d’imiter l’initiative dans d’autres régions…”

Alors, aidez-le et faites passer le mot… N’oubliez pas: https://livreensac.blogspot.com

J’admire grandement sa compassion et son courage. C’est toujours une grande joie de partager notre passion pour les livres (je le ressens souvent en bibliothèques) mais j’ai eut trop de mauvaises expériences à prêter les miens (j’ai perdu trace de plusieurs d’entre eux) que je n’oserais jamais me lancer dans une telle entreprise. Je préfère laisser passer la crise et lire paisiblement en écoutant du smooth jazz à la radio ou blogger sur ma “safe-house” en toute sécurité. Alors, je te lève mon chapeau, neveu !

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