This will often get used in a couple of different ways based off of the main word. The first adds and "o" to the beginning of the word, which adds a level of politeness to the term. The other usage adds a casual flair, dropping the "hi", and occasionally lengthening the "s" in "sa". In either way, or in the normal expression as given, the term is used as, "Hey, it's been a while."
Story: Takaya Natsuki
Art: Takaya Natsuki
Publisher: Tokyopop (originally Hakuensha)
Fourteen volumes? Yes, fourteen volumes. Fruits Basket, or Furuba, to use the series' nickname, has been called the best-selling shoujo manga in America. I'm sure there are sales figures floating around somewhere to prove that, though that's not really that important.
I hesitate to call Furuba a slice of life series only because I can't recall any slice of my life in which I've hugged a member of the opposite sex who then promptly transformed into an animal. Well, it's supposed to be a closely guarded secret, so I can accept that although it's never happened to me, it could. (Okay, not really, but this gets back to the whole suspension of disbelief thing.)
Before I get started, a quick note on romanizations: The Tokyopop translations stuck a bunch of "h"es in where "o"s and "u"s go. This is supposedly an accepted romanization style for long vowels, or "u" extensions of vowels. However, these mystically appearing "h"es made my life miserable when I was just starting out in learning the Japanese language, so I won't use them. There is no plain "h" in the Japanese language. Don't misunderstand, there are "h" sounds, but they are all "h" plus vowel. (HA, HI, FU, HE, HO, respectively.) Thus, Tohru becomes Tooru, Sohma becomes Souma, and so forth. The same applies to many words with extended vowels, but in a purely English-translated text, the names are the only place that romanization should be an issue. ... ... ... Anyway, rant over, I suppose. On with the show.
Whether or not it can be called slice of life, the series certainly can lay claim to a quality mix of comedy and drama, along with an enjoyable cast. The story opens with Honda Tooru living out of a tent, because her grandfather's house is being remodeled. She happens across a house near where her tent is set up, out in the middle of relative nowhere, which, like the land she's pitched the tent on, belongs to the Souma family, and is inhabited initially by Soumas Yuki and Shigure. It would be nice to say that the Soumas took her in out of kindness and human decency, but saying that it's because none of them could cook or clean worth a lick is much more accurate.
The Souma family, or at least particular of its descendants, are cursed by what are referred to as the "vengeful spirits of the Chinese zodiac". Each of the twelve, plus the cat, have associated weaknesses, likes, and dislikes based on their animal to go along with the general "transforms into that animal when hugged by a member of the opposite sex" bit. Needless to say, this isn't exactly something that the family would be pleased about if it were to become common knowledge.
While it's not really something to recommend a manga based on, the author talk sections are easily some of the most memorable in memory. Just for a taste: "When a character dies in an RPG, my first thought isn't, 'Oh, how sad'... It's 'Please give back the items you had equipped, okay?' Then I feel bad about being so cold-hearted."
At some point, which I didn't think to pin down at the time (probably around volume nine or ten), the story shifts from Tooru living life while trying to hide the Souma family secret to her getting the idea that she might be able to find a way to break the curse.
The review feels like it cuts off quite abruptly, but I'm not sure what else I can say without going into excessive spoilers and ruining things for potential readers. So, I'm going to leave it at that.
With this, plus the eventually forthcoming reviews of the five books of the Belgariad by David Eddings, and The Tempting of America by Robert Bork (and the review that I won't be doing of volumes 5-8 of KareKano), I've clobbered the March reading challenge with room to spare, even if you want to count English-language manga at 3-to-1, 4-to-1, or even 5-to-1. (Go me? Heh...)
This entry will finish Article One of the Constitution, dealing with the limitations placed upon the congress, and the limitations placed upon the states.
Article One, Section Nine:
A1.S9.C1: The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.
Congress cannot prohibit the importation of slaves or other individual into any state that was signatory to the Constitution until the year 1808. However, it can tax the slave trade at a rate of up to $10 per person brought in to the country.
According to the article on Wikipedia, Congress did put such a prohibition into effect at the earliest possible opportunity, January 1st, 1808.
A1.S9.C2: The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.
The congress cannot suspend habeas corpus except in specific circumstances: rebellion or invasion of the country.
A1.S9.C3: No bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, shall be passed.
Congress cannot write a law declaring a person or persons guilty and punish them without the benefit of a trial. Nor can it create laws which apply retroactively, whether to make legal something which was illegal, or vice versa.
A1.S9.C4: No capitation or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
A reiteration of Article One, Section Two, Clause Three, regarding how taxes were to be apportioned amongst the states. Note again that this is purely in relation to population, not in relation to the income of any members of that population.
A1.S9.C5: No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State. No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another: Nor shall vessels bound to or from one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties, in another.
Congress cannot lay a tax on items exported from the states. Any laws it creates which apply to revenue generation from ports must be applied equally to all ports in all states. In addition, it cannot tax ships from one state when they enter another state.
A1.S9.C6: No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.
Money cannot be withdrawn from the treasury except if it is required by an appropriations bill. The income and expenditures of the government must be published as a matter of public record.
A1.S9.C7: No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office or title, or any kind whatever from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
The United States will not confer titles of nobility (though, sometimes it seems like such titles as Congressman and Senator have reached that level, doesn't it?). Also, no public servant is allowed to accept gifts or titles from any foreign dignitary or power without the consent of the congress.
Article One, Section Ten:
A1.S10.C1: No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.
This places particular limits on the states which join the union. Many of these are either reserved powers of the federal government, or are limitations also placed on the federal government. Specifically, the states cannot enter into treaties, alliances, or other confederations (reserved to the federal government); grant letters of marque and reprisal (reserved to the congress in A1.S8.C11); coin money (reserved to the federal government in A1.S8.C5); emit bills of credit (also A1.S8.C5); make anything but gold or silver coin a legal form of payment for debts (yet again, A1.S8.C5); pass a bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or any law which impairs private contracts (the first two restrictions are shared with congress in A1.S9.C3.); and finally, the states, like the congress, cannot grant titles of nobility. (There goes my dream of being Duke of the Western Rivers, I suppose...)
A1.S10.C2: No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws; and the new produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any State, on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and controul of the Congress. No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.
The states are restricted from taxing imports and exports, as well as unduly delaying them other than as absolutely necessary for inspections. Any money that the states gain from taxing imports and exports must be turned over to the treasury of the United States. Also, congress has oversight over any such laws regarding this taxation as the states happen to enact. The power to maintain a standing military is reserved to the federal government, not the states, as is the power to enter into treaties with foreign powers.
Suspension of disbelief is an aesthetic theory intended to
characterize people's relationships to art. It refers to the alleged willingness
of a reader or viewer to accept as true the premises of a work of fiction, even if
they are fantastic, impossible, or contradictory.
Now, it's really been ever since Crossroad that I've been mulling this over, but it only really came to a head recently. It has to do with what people will actually accept in their suspension of disbelief, and what they won't. In the end, I came to the conclusion that willingness to suspend disbelief for the plot varies in direct relation to how much like our world the story world is meant to be.
Accepting the essentially impossible:
To borrow the example a friend of mine used last night, take Superman. While it's set in a world that resembles ours, it's essentially a work of fantasy. Certainly, you could make the argument that science is slowly working towards giving men Superman-type abilities, starting with such things as bulletproof vests to stop bullets with one's chest, but we're expected to accept that he can do these things with his natural body. Still, even though no man is actually able to perform under his own power the feats that Superman can, most people can accept the premise of a man who is "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound". I would submit that things like this are so fantastic that they cannot disturb our concept of the real world, and thus we can accept them as a premise for fiction.
The same concept would apply to any number of other things: Faster-than-light space travel, aliens with the power to disassemble and properly reassemble the human body practically from scratch, wizards throwing fire or ice or calling down lighting from a clear sky, mahou shoujo or giant robots and their 14-year-old pilots attempting to stave off the annihilation of the earth, and so forth.
Accepting the possible, but outlandish:
Most of the examples I can really come up with here are from science fiction. Perhaps I'm just not reading the right fantasy, but there doesn't seem to be a real equivalent to "hard" science fiction in fantasy. In any event, what the reader is being asked to accept here is something outside of their own experience that either is possible, or can be reasonably said to be possible in the future.
For explanatory purposes, take the idea of humans colonizing outer space. While humanity certainly isn't at that point yet technologically, it isn't impossible to consider ways in which it would be possible. In fact, this case may not be so much a suspension of disbelief as it is a willingness to believe in the creativity and ingenuity of mankind. Still, it falls under the general umbrella.
Likewise, consider the case of an outlandish but possible character: Sherlock Holmes. The reader is asked to believe that Holmes' mental prowess and knowledge far exceeds the norm when it comes to his chosen fields. Here, the problem is not so much believing in the idea that a person could be near or at the top of their field of expertise as it is believing that such a wealth of knowledge and near-perfection could come together in one man.
Accepting the Normal:
This should be fairly obvious. Most people should be able to accept what appear to be normal occurrences, even if they fall outside the realm of an individual's experience. This extends both to plot points (e.g.: a character becomes sick, or is out of town on business) and characterizations (e.g.: the neighbor across the street who gets a beer or two too many in him on a Saturday afternoon, a needy girlfriend who is constantly calling). Even someone too young to be in the workforce, or who has never had a friend or acquaintence like the ones listed can accept and rationalize their existence without any difficulty.
What Qualifies as Unacceptable?
If we're capable of rationalizing both the normal, and the extremely abnormal, why is a term such as suspension of disbelief even necessary? Obviously, there must be points beyond which this concept will not operate. These points may well be different based upon the reader in question, but I would submit that they fall into two primary categories.
Things Which Are Supposed to be Normal, but Are Not:
Going back to Crossroad again, because it is the best example of this in recent memory. To explain it in general terms, it works like this: The world is supposed to be our world. Natural, rational, easy to accept. In fact, there is even a saying, that "life is stranger than fiction", which should cover such things. However, what the author has asked the readers to accept is a cut above. "How these characters got together, while unusual, is not impossible." It may not be impossible, but it is so exceptionally unlikely that the situation in question could happen more than once, perhaps twice, that accepting that it happened four times with the same person involved belies the idea that the world is like ours.
This is more normal-seeming on its face, because it only involves people, but it doesn't really come off any differently than if an author were to write a book set now, in our world, with our current level of science, asking us to buy the fact that humans had developed faster-than-light travel.
Excessive Contrivance to Make the (Nearly) Impossible Possible:
This is probably the more common way that suspension of disbelief is abused or defeated. Most of the time, it boils down to an excessively contrived luck. Put in fantasy terms, our hero just happens to be exactly where he's needed every single time in order to prevent the great evil from dominating the world. Even this we can possibly accept for the sake of the story, as long as it isn't made blatantly obvious.
Brought closer to reality, however, the problem becomes obvious. Instead of the dashing hero in the previous example, consider instead the case of a plumber: On his way home from work, he survives a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler, then, in the hospital, he learns that his wife's cancer has gone into remission, and a couple of weeks later, he's won the state lottery. None of these are excessive in and of themselves, but as they pile up, it becomes more and more difficult to accept that the plumber is a normal person in our world.
I know, at this point, nobody is really surprised by the ways that congress goes about spending money. Sad, but true. Still, you'd think that they could at least keep their snouts out of the trough while passing spending bills relating to military action. ... ... ... Well, no, you wouldn't think it, and neither would I, but I suppose we could wish it.
Meanwhile, senator Byrd was quoted as saying that the bill as laden with pork is "common sense and good economics". To twist a favorite quote to fit the circumstances, "What part of this looks like good economics to you, huh? What part of this?" And who's surprised that they're still trying to appropriate more money because of hurricane Katrina?
Of course, the House doesn't come out of this clean, either. They tacked on $20B or so of their own pork on their version of the bill.
I suppose if you can have a thousand dollar pizza, you can have a million dollar laptop, huh? The only thing remotely interesting to the technology geek in me is the 128 gigs of solid-state disk space. One would hope the rest of the specifications are also top-of-the-line, given the price, but the article doesn't mention anything other than the drive space, and the 17" screen (nice for a laptop, but not really what I'd call luxury...).