After Dark Ukecast #1

After Dark Ukecast #1

After Dark Ukecast #1

Come chat to me and my co-star on twitter @lonedreameryaoi @MXHarryBentley
I can also be found on tumblr at Letzoespoilyou

Also check out my Anime Yaoi/bl/slash list here: http://www.lzsy.co.uk/2013/02/my-yaoi-shonen-ai-boys-love-slashable-anime-list-2/

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Anime Spotlight – Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace

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This anime was a wild little find and one of those series that no one talks about but is definitely more original and interesting than most other series out there. The anime is inspired by the works of author Edogawa Ranpo and commemorates the 50th anniversary of his death in 1965.
It’s a murder mystery detective show with a lot of social commentary about the state of modern Japan mixed with horror elements. The show has great cases such as a serial killer making furniture out of women and does not shy away from some disturbing images, it is the very definition of aesthetic violence. They use a lot of very artistic but dark imagery which I really love. What’s awesome is that under the cases there is a feeling of dissatisfaction in Japanese society being reported on the TV, they story brings in ideas about the failing justice system and they rise of those who are not supported by modern Japanese values. If you liked Psycho Pass and want to see an anime tackle similar issues but in a different genre this anime does it very well.

The cast is a diverse mix of characters that all have some interesting personal quirks with the exception of Hashiba the voice of reason. Our main character is Kobayashi a boy bored by his life and a weird sense of what is attractive and interesting until he meets detective Akeshi a 17 year old detective. Kobayashi is suspected in a murder case but after working with Akeshi to solve the mystery he decides to become the detective’s assistant as it’s the first time he’s really had fun. Kobayashi’s best friend Hashiba tags along to be the voice of reason and keep him grounded (plus it’s rather obvious that he’s in love with Kobayashi). There are some very colourful characters but there are better off kept a surprise.
The show has a great art style using metaphor and staging to display various points and bring a great surrealism to it. I see flashes of Ikuhara (Utena, Mawaru PenguinDrum) but darker in this series and very much Danganronpa. The show looks great, has real emotion, dark and imaginative cases, quirky characters, unique set pieces, grittiness and great social commentary so was a real win for me.
Plus a bonus for a fugoshi some real slash/BL potential.

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Manga Spotlight – Real Account vol 1

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I loved the first volume of this brand new manga serise. Its a game of death genred manga that reminds me of a combination of Doubt and Danganronpa.

The story is that in Japan everyone is using the social media app Real Account a very much combination of Facebook and Twitter. It follows our main character Atura who with hundreds of others somehow get transported into the digital world of Real Account Zone. Here they are told they have to play games in order to survive with their life totals linked to their followers.

Its very fast paced and brutal and I found the use of social media very original. Its exciting and you and def nail bitting to see how the games are going to play out. It also has some real emotional moments especially when dealing with how people treat online idols once knowing what they look like in the real world.

Its not a nice manga some times with some vicous deaths so the violence is quite high. I loved the social commentry on social media, the use of tweeting and followers. I loved how it exposes how depents people are on social media and how people have an online personality and off line personality. It really is genius using the followers as life totals and what people will do to try and gain followers and the risks of alienating them.

All round a brutal and exciting manga with great modern ideas and social commentry.

Follow me on twitter @lonedreameryaoi

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UkeCast #0 – MW Bookclub Review

This Month’s Discussion: MW by Osamu Tezuka
Next Month: After School Nightmare by Setona Mizushiro

UkeCast pilot for a new yaoi manga and inspired works podcast brought to you by SexynGeeky and Let Zoe Spoil You

For a list of yaoi/shonen ai and slashable anime series check out my list here: http://www.lzsy.co.uk/2013/02/my-yaoi-shonen-ai-boys-love-slashable-anime-list-2/

@lonedreameryaoi and @MXharrybentley

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YA champions and Waterstones let downs!

As a dyslexic reader I was so happy and amazed by the rise of teen fiction and YA. When I was a teen there was no such thing and I gave up reading for nearly 10 years. Then I discovered a teen fiction section in my library and discovered Michael Grants Gone series and Charlie Higson’s The Enemy. Here were two authors writing amazing horror novels for teens that were every bit as engaging and horrifying as the movies and TV shows I loved like 28 Days Later. Like many dyslexics I read mostly graphic novels and manga (of which I am a stupidly huge fan), I needed something less complicated to read, larger print, more accessible language, less complex use of grammar and sentence structure and plots not bogged down with unnecessary dialogue and descriptions. I wanted good engaging stories that fed my imagination and broadened my limited vocab without being so hard to engage with because they often dealt with topic I didn’t feel connected with. I tried reading sci-fi and fantasy for adults but the sheer size of the novels and the language is just too much for me to handle.

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But then the YA movement just started getting bigger and better with titles like Hunger Games and Maze Runner that at the time I never thought would end up being the amazing and impacting films they are now. YA fiction stole my heart with great genres like teen dystopia and titles like Uglies and The 5th Wave (what a brilliant book about an unseen alien invasion using extinction events to wen out mankind). Thank to these YA titles I got my confidence in reading back and improved my reading to the point that I have read a bit more adult fiction that does appeal to me. But still many of them didn’t match my interests or experiences as a teenager or adult from a different background.

I grew up mixed race Asian, it was impossible fining books with female characters let alone male ones that had a diverse a background as me. I am half Tamil Malay and half Scottish, one parent strict catholic and one atheist. I had a total tiger mum and no idea where I placed within social groups. Too white on the outside for one click, too Asian on the inside for another. I also realised I was bi and being a member of the LGBT community was another topic never broached in fiction for younger readers. I discovered geekdom and that was a saviour too me falling in love with Star Trek and X Files that allowed me to escape and fantasies.

So what does a LGBT half Asian raised by a catholic tiger mother and a sci-fi and adventure loving father read when she is also dyslexic. Turns out nothing and I didn’t read, not until discovering manga. But then YA had another revolution for me as the books I wish I had read as a child started to appear. Authors such as David Leviathan, Bali Rai, James Dawson and Liz Kessler published books about race, gender and sexuality giving me tales about coming out and trying to navigate youth when you don’t fit the mainstream mould. Then I discovered my Favourite author in Holly Black who lead me to Cassandra Clare and Mellissa Marr whose books were taking away the stigmatisms and allowing us to have characters that just were, their gender, sex and race not affecting the overall story, who could be heroes regardless.

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I worked for a major book retailer and I champion these authors in store hoping to inspire the next generations of dyslexic and reluctant readers while also educating teens on great books that will open their minds to different characters or help them feel magic and special about their own lives. This is when I started seeing the true power of YA to educate and help young readers deal with issues so prolific in our society but rarely talked about. First champion is Laurie Halse Anderson and her amazing book WinterGirls. As someone with a tough upbringing and personal tragedy in my past I went through the illness of anorexia, I use food as a way to control my pain and was very ill. WinterGirls is a very harrowing and accurate story of a girl with anorexia. It understands the mind-set of one who suffers with this how easy it is to keep it hidden, how easy the internet can provide support for not eating with anorexia support blogs and how good it feels to not eat. No one tells you how much a sense of accomplishment you feel by not eating and having a character that understood that aspect was amazing. As the story progresses you start to see the real tragedy of not eating, how it not only affects you physically but mentally. Laurie Halse Anderson has done some amazing research for this book to truly show this disease from all angles and it didn’t shy away from the horrific details of the disease and what happens to the body as it dies. It was a punch in the gut and has a horrific death of another major characters suffering from Bulimia. A book like this is so important because it isn’t self-help or set of rules to get better it’s a story with a relatable character that you understand and wish you get better. It inspired me to think more about the way I eat so I don’t ever fall back into bad practice and it can be a great tool for girls going through this awful disease to see what it’s like from the perspective of someone like them.

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After this I discovered an amazing author Louise O’Neill and her book Only Ever Yours. At first it caught my eye as a teen dystopia akin to Uglies mixed with the Handmaids Tale. But it didn’t take long for me to realise what a piece of mastery I was reading. Set in a future where the female gene was bread out women are birthed artificially and raised in special schools training them till 16 where they are either married off to the highest bidders or sent to work in the various pleasure entertainment districts. This book is harsh and bleak, written with such intense intelligence and social commentary. We follow one girl and her class of 30 as they approach their 16th birthday and the hearing that will determine the rest of their lives. Ten of these girls will become wives the rest pleasure workers. I don’t want to spoil such an amazing book but it deals with issues from treatment of women in society, domestic abuse, prostitution, eating disorders, mental illness, homosexuality, body image and the roles of media in perpetrating stereotypes. I can’t begin to praise this book enough, from the reality show the girls watch called America’s Next Top Concubine to the use of a vomitron. An example of how clever this book is that all female characters are written in lower case proving how low women are rated in this world. As the class competes for the top slots by making sure their weight and appearance are perfect, that they know how to pleasure their future male partners and excel at domestic skills we become more horrified by this possible future world. One of the most challenging aspect of this book is how it gets into your head with its constant damnation of imperfect. It forever drills into the characters and you that being fat is akin to a crime, never lets up with talk of weight to the point I started feeling guilty eating lunch while reading the book. Now as a thinking and intelligent women I knew that I wasn’t going to stop eating because a story made me feel bad but Louise O’Neill has a way of writing that makes you look at yourself and judge your own thoughts and actions, she challenges your way of thinking and it is simple mind blowing. I recommend this book highly it is pure genius.

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So you can imagine I was excited when I heard about her new book and then I was terrified. Her latest book is called Asking For It and it is exactly what you think it is about. I have to admit rape was not a subject matter I wanted to read about as it makes me very nervous but as someone who sells YA books I knew I had a responsibility to read and understand this book so best to know how to sell and promote it. And promote it I very much did as It is amazing. Once over the initial fear I found myself reading another book that judged me and my ideas. Asking For It is about an 18 year old girl who is sexually abused by 5 guys at a party. What makes this book different is that our main character is so very unlikable, she is like all those bitch characters from films like The Duff, self-centred, think she’s god’s gift and can have any man she wants. She dresses and acts so very inappropriately that at one point I found myself thinking “god this girl is asking for it” only to be horrified by myself for thinking that about someone. But this is the point, this is the debate that is very central to the novel. Does a girl who acts and thinks like this ever deserve such a horrific event to happen to her. So much around the issue of consent is steeped in a lack of education. It becomes clear that this girls attitude to sex is so wrong, there is a scene that I found harder to read than the actual gang rape as it was such a blatant disregard of consent and she feels it’s better to just lie there and take it rather than keep saying no!

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The actually major seen of controversy is told in a serious of flashes. The book is not explicit in its descriptions but our lead wakes up with no idea of what happens to her and finds out through social media. This is another amazing look at social media as a tool for cyber bullying as she is subjected to photos taken by one of the perpetrators on Facebook. There is so much fallout from this and it tells a very haunting tale of a community’s response. Some people say she was asking for it, some believe that boys will be boys and since they are members of the football team it’s not worth destroying their reputation over this and some just wish she would stop trying to get attention for something she had encouraged. It’s a mind field to navigate all the different ways people act and I found myself wanting to scream and punch some of the characters. But in the end it is an important book because it really makes you think about the issues around consent. I think teens of 15 plus should read it, both male and female, I think parents and educators should read it and this book could go a long way to opening dialogue and making a difference in the battle for consent.

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This is where Waterstones let me down, I had been championing this book. I had it displayed with similar hard hitting books, with a header explain in was a confrontational and challenging read for 16 plus. I had the book sealed so younger teens in the same section wouldn’t be able to read it without breaking that seal. Then Waterstones made the decision to reclassify the book as adult fiction not teen and it was taken out of my department to adults where it just sits with other adult titles without context. This was Waterstones chance to champion a brave book that is so relevant in the lives on young adults. This book is for YA the author herself has said it is for a YA audience, it is a topic that needs to be talked about and a chance for teens to again be educated in something that will affect them but people aren’t talking about. The official line is that the book has too much emotional weight for younger readers and that Waterstones doesn’t actually have a YA section but a teen section. This means teen is more 12-15 and after that they go to adult fiction. I say this is stupid and a lot of authors identify their novels as YA not adult, books for those 14-18. As a good children’s books seller it’s my job to make sure that when teens are buying books they are for their age within the section. Waterstones can’t say they don’t have a YA section when half the book in teen are YA. I actually think Only Ever Yours was more emotionally weighty and difficult to read because of the subtle way it played with your mind but apparently that’s ok to be in teen.

I just read an awful YA book called Daughters Unto Devils hoping for a good possession book as a teen Halloween recommend but ended up with a book low on scares and high on unnecessary sex scenes at the beginning. I think more YA should be open about the important dialogue about sex rather than in the case of DUD use it as a plot tool to extend the story and shame the girl in it. The book basically implied that fooling around and have sex at 16 will bring shame on your family and therefore the devil, promiscuous girls shouldn’t be shamed they should be educated to respect their bodies or be able to say no when they really don’t want to have sex. Somehow DUD manages to be a teen read but Asking For It nope. I don’t like it when people underestimate the intelligent and emotional strength of younger readers. I run a manga club and some of the younger readers are so eloquent with the way they speak and show a great deal of maturity. I had an 11 year old boy who wanted more manga recommendations but didn’t want to see women being sexualized, he went on to ask why there is so much of it on manga and I explained a little about Japanese society and he replied “so Japan is still rather reserved about these things and manga is an out let for them to see things they can in Japan”, an 11 year old boy! Now I am not going to say Asking For it should be read by anyone under 16 maybe 15 at the very least as it is a theme that needs a lot more maturity but taking away the option for them to read something weighty and controversial that could also educated them isn’t the right choice. I am deeply disappointed that a novel that could have made a difference is now not being marketed to its intended audience.

Thanks for reading I can be contacted @lonedreameryaoi and if you are manga fans in the Bath area do come join us https://www.facebook.com/groups/BathWATManga/

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Where’s my Queer Positive Hero?

I miss Torchwood!!

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You know what I miss this show more and more for one major reason, a queer positive relationship in a show that didn’t ever go into the awkward coming out storyline, where being gay or bi didn’t define the characters or their actions it was just part of who they were. Being LGBT in Torchwood didn’t have any effect on the ability to fight aliens or save the world! Torchwood may have started with a small fan base but by the time it got to BBC one it was pretty mainstream, I mean I watched Children of Earth with my Dad! No one complained about the relationship between Jack and Ianto, there was no backlash at having two characters in an open and comfortable gay relationship in lead roles saving the day. No one ever had a problem with Captain Jack Harkness and his omnisexual presence, even in doctor who no one was upset with him flirting with everything.
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Doctor Who is a family show and it happily showed Jack flirt with boys, girls, robots and aliens. He was open, out and proud and most of all loved by all. He was a true hero for queer positive media and his sexuality and behaviour never overshadowed the fact that he was a hero. He didn’t angst over his sexuality, who he dated or slept with had no effect on his ability to save the day and I miss him and everything he represented so much. TV lost a great queer icon and hero.

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Where has queer positive TV gone? I’m a rabid slash fangirl so I do love my fandoms and bromance pairings like Mcdanno from H5.0 and the enormous slash potential of Destiel from Supernatural but they are beginning to feel more like teasing slash fans and us audience members that don’t identify as straight. As someone who identifies as Bi and enjoys non heteronormative story telling I am feeling a void. I slash a lot of shows, White Collar, Suits, Flash, Merlin, Sherlock, True Blood, Castle and Angel/Buffy but as much as I love them and reading my fanfiction I want something more!

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I’m tired of being teased I want some real honest gay heroes and I’m starting to see the reality of queer baiting in TV shows. I loved Spartacus especially when they didn’t kill of the gay characters and a show that had gay gladiators every bit as capable as the rest of the cast was amazing.
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I love Sense8, Brothers and Sisters and Six Feet Under but again these cater shows all have the “trial of gay character”. Where are my Captain Jack Harkness’s? I love that some shows are fleshing out gay characters more, making them confident in their sexuality. Shows like How to get away with Murder and the character of Conner are very positive but still I want a hero!
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I won’t even get started on movies. Thank god for Star Wars and the stormpilot phenomenon as it has opened the eyes of creators to the fact that there is a huge cry for LGBT in movies and we want to see more diversification.

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The evolution of the star wars fandom is amazing and I’m so glad to be part of it and whiteness Hollywood and its directors and actors see how popular queer fandom is and how in demand it is. SWFA went from the behemoth that is the stormpilot fandom taking over online, the lovefest for Poe Dameron to now Poe having his own spinoff comic and actual talk of changing the script to include LGBT in the mainstream movie canon verse. What started as a slash pairing, went to Oscar saying he was playing a romance, to reports that such a romance was just in Oscars head and they denied any Poe/Finn romance, to JJ Abrams saying it’s about time SW got LGBT characters, to it will definitely get LGBT characters to now discussions on Luke Skywalkers sexuality.

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So media needs to stop with the queer baiting and just give us some positive LGBT characters, characters confident in their sexuality so other aspects of their personality and their place in the world they inhabit can be explored. So we can have depictions of non-heteronormative relationships like the ones you get in Sense8 (which really is a break through show). Arrow is setting up its first gay hero, Agents of Shield has a new gay member of the team, Jessica Jones has a great Lesbian character (even if she is a horrible person and villainous she is a solid character and being lesbian has nothing to do with the fact that she is power hungry and ambitious), Gotham too so come on movies catch up.

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As for the rest of TV give us some fresh takes on LGBT characters where their sexuality isn’t their personality and what defines their actions, it’s just part of what makes them who they are.

For more TV shows with Slash potential and gay characters check out my fangirly list here: http://www.lzsy.co.uk/2012/12/my-slash-bromance-and-gay-tv-and-movie-list/

Also follow me on twitter @lonedreameryaoi

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Manga spot – Behind the Scenes!!

Manga Spot – Behind the Scenes

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So I picked up the first volumes of this as it told me it was the new series from the creator of Ourun Host Club a series I enjyed muchly. I am glad I did as this is a rather fun slice of life series.

Set in University our protagonist is a nuerotic boy with and epic guilt complex (score a point for being someone I can totally relate to) who wants to blend in the background and wallow in self pity. But alas through a random encounter he ends up involved with the Behind the Scenes club. This club work tirelessly to support the Uni’s 3 films clubs by being not only the make up and proops providors but also sets, costumes and lighting. They do everything in their power to get the job down supporting the directors and actors from “behind the scenes”.

This first volumes sets up the back story and setting very nicely and introduces our characters. The characters are all likable with distinct personakity traits and quirks. I wouldn’t be lying if I wasn’t already seeing slash pairing potential between our two main male leads but I also see set up for romance with some of the other female characters.

I really enjoyed reading this it was upbeat and funny. Also as a film student I enjoyed all the references to film and what goes on past the director and actors. This series has potential to be a lot of fun. I liked the character designs and the art is nice too.

All round it has my interest so I look forward to how it will continue and lerning more about the characters and their relationships to each other.

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Manga Spot – Merman in My Tub

Manga spot – Merman in my Tub

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Another one that falls firmly in the fangirl catergory for why I bought it. Merman in my Tub is stupid, its pointless and silly and wonderful. Its another slightly shonen ai comedy series with hot bishonen hanging out ther difference is their mostly half sea creatures.

One day our caring bishonen finds a naked man starved and dehydrated so brings him home to heal him. Turns out he has brought home a Merman, a very hot merman who is cute and immature and sulky and excitable. There’s really no more story than that. The odd couple face chalenges of how to pay for the hot water, what to eat for dinner, which soap to use in the bath and very much the daily trials of living with a hyper but well meaning bishonen merman.

As the story goes on we are introuduced to other friends like the half octopus man (and boy is he an attractive fish person). a jellyfish boy and a snail man as they all have bathroom parties and try to keep ur protagonist happy.

Its silly fun just cute stories about cute boys. If you want to have a giggle and admire some attractive fish boys this is the manga for you. I really enjoy it particullarly as I’m a bit of an under the dea fan so it provides two things I love, sea creatures and hot bishonen.

The art is good and the character desgins are great. It really is the charming, fun loving nature of the characters that wins you over and I for one will def be continuing this series!!

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Manga Spot – Bloody Mary

Manga Spotlight – Bloody Mary

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I am such a fangirl so this manga had to be mine. Its about pretty boy vampires and thats all I really wanted.

The plot is very simple boy is the latest generation of a family line whose surname is Maria. He is a priest in training and for some reasons vampires can’t wait to drink his blood, unfortunaetly he doesn’t understand his powers and is getting by on tricks. One day red headed vampire boy turns up asking Maia to kill him. Our vampire is called Bloody Mary and his past is hazy all he knows is he can’t die and is bored of living so long. He doesn’t want to drink blood and knows only a Maria can kill him. Two enter a deal of protection, Mary will protect Maria from vampires and help him leanr how to use his powers and when Maria has his powers he will kill Mary.

So its hard not to be amused that our boys have the names Maria and Mary but their fun characters. Mary being cute nerotic angsty vampire boy with a secret past and Maria being a little more cold and calculated with a mystery past. There’s obviously more to the plot as revileved by the ending a deeper conspiracy.

But really I wanted to see cute boys paw at each other and hug so I got what I wanted out of it. I love vampire yaoi/shonen ai and I think it will be a very subtle shonen ai. The art is pretty and the character designs are attractive. It has potential to be more complex and intriguing so I think for a first volume it sets things out nicely, establishes the characters and the world.

I will be continuing with this series I hope for good things!!

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Anime screening Day – Ben-To

On the 21st of December the entire series of Anime Ben-To will be screening in Bath Spa

One day anime screening of the entire series of Ben-to.
Doors open at 10am but the screening will start at 11am.
It will be £10 on the door which will include food and drink.

Every day an epic struggle rages in grocery stores across Japan – the battle for half-priced bento boxes! Once the discount stickers go on, ravenous brawlers start throwing punches in a knockdown, drag-out war over who gets to take home the cheap eats. When a young, broke high school student named Sato joins the Half-Priced Food Lovers Club, he proves to be a rising talent in the world of insane food fights. But does he have what it takes to become the king of clearance cuisine? Welcome to the world of Ben-To, where chopsticks are lethal weapons, the supermarket is a battleground, and there’s nothing more delicious than a deep-fried win.

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More details at the Bath Manga Society FaceBook page

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