PERSONA4 Volume 1 by Shuji Sogabe is an anime based on a videogame, which may explain why the story dissolves into confusing battle sequences. Starts off well as the protagonist becomes the new transfer student in a small town, but before long he’s sucked into a nightmare world on the far side of the TV. Battle sequences aside, readable, but not readable enough.
ANIMATION MAGAZINE: A Celebration of 20 Years is a 2007 coffee-table book focusing primarily on reprinted covers, ranging from the A-list (Spirited Away and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) to such flops as Small Soldiers. I was more interested in the collection of essays by animators and enthusiasts on what the previous two decades had wrought as animation went big time (in 1987 both Pixar and Batman: The Animated Series were years in the future). Surprisingly the enthusiasm is rather muted as the various writers worry about overreliance on CGI and glitz instead of stories and the movie industry’s willingness to imitate whatever’s successful rather than keep looking for something new. Minor to me, but if you’re a fan of the magazine it might be worth it. All rights to the cover remain with the current holder.
THE VANISHED SMILE: The Mysterious Theft of the Mona Lisa by R.A. Scotti is a good account of the 1911 disappearance and 1913 recovery of La Giaconda, including wild speculations (had it been a pre-emptive first strike by Germany against France?) before the eventual exposure of the thief as a self-proclaimed Italian patriot recovering his country’s lost treasure (Scotti doesn’t entirely buy his claims). Readable but the book Becoming Mona Lisa does at least as good a job writing about the theft and in less space; Scotti is also very prone to gratuitous literary flourishes in her writing.
THE 70s HOUSE by David Heathcote was the book I read last week as Southern Discomfort research, mostly to add a little visual detail to the scenes in people’s homes. Unfortunately this wasn’t quite what I needed since this is less about typical houses and more a view of broad trends (modernism; efforts to blend modernism with traditional local styles; rehabbing older houses rather than building new) with various high-end homes offered as examples. Still it did give me some ideas and it’s a good book in its own right; given more time I’d have read it in detail, but I had to squeeze it in to make the return date.