[Manga Monday] The Oath (One Piece #6) ★★★★☆

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Title: The Oath
Series: One Piece #6
Arc: East Blue Part 6
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

Chapter List:

“Before the Storm”

“An Uninvited Guest”

“The Don’s Offer”

“Steer Clear”

“Storm”

“A Parting of Ways”

“Zoro Overboard”

“The Oath”

“Mackerel Head”

Luffy is a kitchen assistant and waiter until the torn-up flagship of Pirate Commodore Don Krieg lays anchor next to the floating restaurant and a half-starved Krieg, leaning on Gin, staggers inside. He begs for food, which Sanji provides without hesitation. When Krieg’s strength is restored he reverts to his normal self, demanding ownership of the restaurant and food for his 100 men. Nami leaves with the Merry Go, and Mihawk arrives. The master swordsman followed Krieg from the Grand Line, where he had wiped out his entire fleet. Zoro challenges him to a duel and, despite his best efforts, is defeated. After the fight, Usopp, Johnny, and Yosaku take Zoro aboard the bounty hunters’ boat and set sail to follow Nami. Luffy is left behind to pay his debt to the restaurant by defeating Krieg and his men.

My Thoughts:

For whatever reason, this felt like a more “serious” volume than the previous ones. I think that comes down to the fact that we realize just how “under-powered” everyone that Luffy and Co have met so far are in comparison to the people they are going to meet on the Grand Line. We meet Mihawk Dracule, the world’s greatest swordsman and my goodness, he is a veritable god of ability. He destroys a whole fleet of ships with just a sword for goodness sake.

We also get an explanation for why this arc is called East Blue. The world is divided by the Red Line and the Grand Line and various sections get called their designation. So Luffy and Co are in the East Blue quadrant, which Mihawk assures them is the easiest quadrant to live in. Zoro faces off against Mihawk and is so easily defeated that it is stunning. Mainly because we’ve seen how Zoro just rolls over anyone he’s come up against so far. It’s classic shonen but I hope that Oda can do better and tell a good story along with the shonen components. Once a series goes strictly shonen, it tends to become rather dull and uninteresting. I’ve experienced that with two other series, Hunter X Hunter and Reborn!.

Overall, I am glad to see something a little more serious from Oda, as it shows he has a deeper understanding of writing and has the ooomph to pull it off. Silly and Zany are good but it does need to be leavened and this volume felt just right in that regards.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] For Whom the Bell Tolls (One Piece #5) ★★★★☆

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Title: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Series: One Piece #5
Arc: East Blue Part 5
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

Chapter List:

“After Them!!”

“Captain Kuro, of the Thousand Plans”

“Pirate Crew”

“For Whom the Bell Tolls”

“Usopp’s Pirate Crew

“To the Sea”

“Yosaku and Johnny”

“Sanji”

“Three Tough Cooks”

Django, ordered to kill Kaya after forcing her to write a will favoring Kuro, chases her through the forest; Zoro and Usopp are chasing them. On the shore, Luffy and Kuro fight one-on-one and the Straw Hats prevail. With Usopp the newest addition to the crew and a ship named Going Merry as a parting gift from Kaya, they leave the island. At sea they meet Zoro’s former bounty-hunting partners Johnny and Yosaku, who tell them about a floating restaurant near the Grand Line where the crew might find a cook and (to Zoro’s delight) “Hawk-Eye” Mihawk – the world’s best swordsman – was reportedly sighted. When they arrive, Luffy accidentally damages the restaurant and injures its head chef. In compensation, he agrees to work there for one week. When he sees assistant head chef Sanji give free food to Gin, a starving pirate, he decides to persuade the cook to join his crew.

My Thoughts:

This wrapped up the little adventure of Luffy & Co facing off against the Pirate who wanted to go legit, by faking a will and murdering the girl. Captain Kuro reveals that nobody and nothing is worth his time and everything is simply fodder for him to use to advance himself. This rubs Luffy the wrong way and really winds him up. Luffy defeats Kuro in a typically zany One vs One battle. Of course, Nami has been robbing the pirate ship this whole time, ha!

Usopp officially joins the crew and Luffy is on the lookout for someone to be their chef. Man has got his priorities straight is all I can say. They meet Sanji at a floating restaurant and the book ends with Luffy telling Sanji he wants him to be their cook. During this whole time Sanji and the 2 other cooks have been fighting with a customer and with each other and it made me laugh. It was ridiculous and honestly, it really shouldn’t have worked but some it did. I guess that is part of the mangaka’s magic, he simply makes work something that shouldn’t.

The little standalone pictures between chapters weren’t random images this time. They told the story of what happened to Buggy the Clown after being defeated by Luffy. He chases a little bird to eat it and it runs to its parent, which then chases Buggy and when it tries to eat him, spits him out as being bad food 😀 It was just amazing what Oda could express in Buggy’s facial expression and no words.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Black Cat Pirates (One Piece #4) ★★★★☆

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Title: Black Cat Pirates
Series: One Piece #4
Arc: East Blue Part 4
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 211
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

Chapter List:

“True Lies”

“Crescent Moon”

“Uphill Battle”

“Backfire”

“Truth”

“Cruel Fortune”

“The Creeping Cat”

“A Humble Servant”

“The Steep Slope”

Usopp fails to convince the villagers of the impending pirate invasion, but when he decides to prevent the raiding party from reaching them he is joined by the Straw Hat Pirates. They spend the night in preparation, planning to stop the Black Cat Pirates on the coast. However, they pick the wrong side of the village to protect; when they realize their mistake, they have to hurry to reach the other coast. The fight goes well, although they are unprepared and greatly outnumbered. Kuro, angered by the raiding party’s delay, appears on the battlefield; so does Kaya, in a futile attempt to negotiate a compromise.

My Thoughts:

Oh I enjoyed this. Luffy’s a stoner if there ever was one, without actually being a stoner. He’s dumb but not stupid and can be quite intelligent when he chooses to be. He also typifies the Ideal of One Man against the World, and winning. I really like that ideal and I suspect it is a big part of why this manga appeals to me. Plus, the humor is just absolutely whacko and right up my alley. Much like the comments section on 4 or 5 blogs I’m involved with, you just never know where the manga-ka Oda is going to go but when he does, I laugh out loud.

This was on the track of being a 5star read because it was so light and fluffy and funny. The the sick girl Kaya got involved. There was some serious eye rolling happening on my part when she tries to appeal to Kuro, her butler slash pirate captain, and his “better nature”. There was also multiples “Question & Answer” pages which really disrupted the flow of the story. While they were between chapters, they were inane enough that it made me wonder if the manga-ka made them up, because if they were real questions, then the questioners were outright pathetic.

Finally, I just don’t care for the character Usopp. I don’t like his character and I don’t like his artwork. The “big lipped” look has never appealed to me and kind of makes me cringe. I remember my first introduction to that style of character was from the Tenchi in Tokyo anime and I’ve never yet gotten to like it.

The pictures between chapters continue to amuse me greatly. This one is Luffy, Zorro and Nami “mecha”nized and stomping through Tokyo. Where does Oda come up with these ideas? I have no idea but I am loving every second of it 😀

Rating: 4 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Don’t Get Fooled Again (One Piece #3) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Don’t Get Fooled Again
Series: One Piece #3
Arc: East Blue Part 3
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 211
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

Chapter List:

“The Pirate Buggy the Clown”
“Devil Fruit”
“The Way of the Thief””
Townies”
“Strange Creatures”
“The Dread Captain Usopp”
“The Lie Rejecter”
“Lies”
“Captain Kuro’s Plan

Luffy and Buggy fight in a bizarre show of devil-fruit powers until Nami joins the fight and Buggy is defeated by the two (temporary) allies. Leaving with some of Buggy’s treasure, they and Zoro set sail for the hometown of chronic liar Usopp. In search of a large ship, Luffy and his crew visit the mansion of the sickly young Kaya; they are turned away by her overprotective butler, Klahador. Usopp and Luffy later overhear Klahador (who is really the notorious pirate Kuro) and his first mate, Django, plan to kill Kaya so Kuro can inherit her wealth and social status.

My Thoughts:

While this was amusing, it felt extremely “setup’y” for getting another crew member. Nami joins the crew as the navigator but she tells Luffy they need a big ship if they’re going to sail the Grand Line in search of the One Piece. This leads them to Usopp and the beginning of another fight with another pirate.

Obviously, it’s left open to hook you to read the next volume and I do have the next volume handy. It just annoys me that it’s used that way.

What I am rather enjoying is the little bits of art that Oda is including with each chapter heading. It will feature at least one, if not more, of the characters and then some outlandish situation or something just plain ridiculous. I’ve included the one that made me grin the most for this volume:

There are 9 chapters and almost 200 pages but I got to the end and was like “that’s it?” Reading this was as easy as reading one of the 25page Spawn comics. And in One Piece at least the violence is cartoonishly outlandish.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Buggy the Clown (One Piece #2) ★★★★☆

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Title: Buggy the Clown
Series: One Piece #2
Arc: East Blue Part 2
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 211
Words: 8K





Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

Luffy begs Nami to become a pirate and his crew’s navigator, but she refuses and uses him as bait to steal the treasure of pirate captain Buggy the Clown. As Luffy and Zoro fight the Buggy Pirates, Buggy is found to have the power of a devil fruit which allows him to separate his body parts at will. With Buggy’s crewmen defeated, Luffy fights him one-on-one. The volume ends with Buggy revealing that he knew Red-haired Shanks, Luffy’s old mentor.

My Thoughts:

For a volume over 200 pages, not much happens. Luffy and Zoro make it to an island that has been taken over by Buggy the Clown and they get captured and fight and that’s about it. There’s a schmaltzy little piece about a dog guarding the store that his master used to own and it made me roll my eyes which is why this volume only gets 4stars.

The character design in One Piece is as unique as that by CLAMP. Once you see it you’ll recognize it as distinctly Oda’s. I’ll probably include some art in a later review. This early in the series just doesn’t seem like it’s quite time.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Romance Dawn (One Piece #1) ★★★★☆

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Title: Romance Dawn
Series: One Piece #1
Arc: East Blue Part 1
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 211
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

Seven-year-old Monkey D. Luffy tries to join “Red-Haired” Shanks’ pirate crew, but is rejected as too young. He accidentally eats a devil fruit which causes his body to gain the properties of rubber, but makes him unable to swim. After an ordeal with mountain bandits, Luffy abandons his plan to join Shanks’ crew; instead, he vows to surpass Shanks, build up a crew of his own and become the next king of the pirates. Ten years later Luffy sets out to sea, frees the young Coby from a slave’s life in Alvida’s pirate crew and saves three-sword-wielding bounty hunter Roronoa Zoro from being executed by the Navy. With Zoro Luffy’s first crewman, they set sail for the Grand Line (the sea where the One Piece – the treasure of the last king of the pirates – is supposedly hidden), and meet thief (and expert navigator) Nami.

My Thoughts:

I first started reading One Piece back in 2007. By 2011 I was up to Volume 29 and then Viz, the American company with the english rights, started playing catch up and publishing a volume every month. I couldn’t afford that and neither could the library. So I stopped reading One Piece. Fast forward to 2021 and One Piece is up to Volume 97 this August. Digital manga is now a thing, which is good because my eyes can’t handle the paper copies any more.

I was hesitant to start this series simply because you just never know how much you have changed in 14 years. Apparently, while I have changed, what I find funny hasn’t. This still had me in stitches even while not laughing out loud.

Luffy D Monkey is a supremely confidant young man who isn’t exactly humble but neither is he arrogant. He knows his powers and strengths and his weaknesses. He’s just the kind of main character I like to read about. He’s also insanely silly sometimes 😀

The original english translations use the name Roronoa Zolo instead of Roronoa Zoro. It should have been Zoro, as Zoro is a great swordsman of the 3 sword style (he literally holds and uses the third sword with his mouth) and his goal is to become the world’s greatest swordsman. Just wanted to put that out there in case I ever include a picture and it he’s referenced as Zolo instead of Zoro.

The most important thing to realize as you start this manga is to realize that the manga-ka is deliberately holding a Romantic View of pirates and the pirate life. Just accept it and you’re good to go.

I’ll talk more about other stuff in later volumes. This is enough for now.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Azumanga Daioh Omnibus ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Azumanga Daioh Omnibus
Series: Azumanga Daioh #1-4
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 688
Words: 32K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

Azumanga Daioh chronicles the everyday life in an unnamed Japanese high school of six girls and two of their teachers: child prodigy Chiyo Mihama and her struggle to fit in with girls five years older; reserved Sakaki and her obsession with the cute animals while certain ones seem to hate her; spacey Ayumu “Osaka” Kasuga with a skewed perspective on the world; Koyomi “Yomi” Mizuhara’s aggravation at an annoying best friend; Tomo Takino, whose energy is rivaled only by her lack of sense; sporty Kagura and her one-sided athletics rivalry with Sakaki; their homeroom teacher Yukari Tanizaki; and her friend, physical education teacher Minamo “Nyamo” Kurosawa.

My Thoughts:

Ahhhh, this was good. This was a fantastic way to say goodby to Azuma’s style in both terms of art and storyline.

What stood out to me the most, as I noted in my previous 2014 review, is just how positive Azuma keeps everything. From Chiyo-chan’s worries about being a 10 year old amongs teenagers, to Sakaki’s secret love of animals to the teacher’s drinking habits, Azuma simply makes his stories light, comforting and fluffy. Just the thing to read when one is feeling sick.

If I could have read these in 4 separate volumes I would have preferred that, but even all at once at close to 700 pages it didn’t feel like it was “too much”. In all honesty, re-reading this allowed me to push off choosing another manga series to read for at least a month, hahahaa 😀

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 14 ★★★★★

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Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 14
Series: Yotsuba&! #14
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 224
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Work

Yotsuba & Yoga

Yotsuba & Princess

Yotsuba & The Day Before

Yotsuba & Harajuku

Yotsuba & Yoyogi Park

Yotsuba & Lunch

From Wikipedia

After helping Koiwai move a new table upstairs, Jumbo presents Yotsuba with a set of beads; an intense necklace-making session ensues for the trio. Miss Stake invites Fuuka and Yotsuba to join her for a free trial session of yoga; as the older girls struggle, Yotsuba exhibits astonishing flexibility. Yotsuba reads the story of Cinderella; inspired, she ties ribbons to her hair and is infuriated when Koiwai fails to see her fancy long hair. Going next door, Asagi immediately recognizes her as a princess and makes a fancy dress for Yotsuba using plastic trash bags; after she returns home for her bead necklace, Koiwai makes up for his earlier faux pas by asking the self-proclaimed Princess Zapunzel for a dance. The day before their trip to Tokyo, Yotsuba asks her neighbors and friends for places to go; Mother Ayase suggests Ginza, Asagi suggests Shibuya and Shinjuku, Ena suggests Tokyo Tower, and Fuuka suggests Harajuku specifically to eat crepes, which she calls stylish. Torako suggests Daikanyama but then gloomily asserts there are no fun places for kids in Tokyo. To prepare for their trip, Koiwai buys a smartphone and Yotsuba accompanies him to buy a sushi dinner at the market. Jumbo and Yanda visit later that evening to help Koiwai with his new phone and ask Yotsuba where she would like to visit when they arrive in Tokyo. At the train station, Yotsuba helps Koiwai buy a ticket and they board a train to Ikebukuro Station, where they transfer to the JR East Yamanote Line. The pair stop in Harajuku for cotton candy and crepes, and then Koiwai gets a text message from his sister Koharuko suggesting they all meet in Yoyogi Park. At the park, Yotsuba spies on three women dressed as aliens, who she successfully convinces to not destroy the earth. Koharuko reminds Yotsuba they traveled to Tokyo to pick up Koiwai’s new car, a Mini convertible, and takes them to a buffet at a luxury hotel restaurant for lunch. After a filling meal, Yotsuba and Koiwai set off for the highway in their new car.

My Thoughts:

When I read this a year and a half ago, I went into it with the expectations of it being funny. With this re-read of the whole series, I think that “cute” is much more fitting than any humorous description.

The backstory of the following scene is that Yotsuba and her dad have gone to Tokyo to pick up a car from Yotsuba’s aunt and they meet in a park. Yotsuba sees some women dressed up as aliens and stares at them from behind a tree. One of the girls decides it would be fun to chase Yotsuba and she runs back to her dad and aunt, where her aunt tells her that she needs to ask the aliens to not destroy the earth.

There is another volume after this one, but it won’t be coming to american audiences until September of this year. That’s according to Yen Press, the publishers of the english version:

https://yenpress.com/9781975336097/yotsuba-and-vol-15/

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 13 ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 13
Series: Yotsuba&! #13
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 224
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Sticks & Stuff

Yotsuba & Sandbox

Yotsuba & Night

Yotsuba & Souvenirs

Yotsuba & Cleaning

Yotsuba & Grandma

Yotsuba & The Black Ghost

Yotsuba & All Day Long

From Wikipedia

Yotsuba heads over to the Ayase house early in the morning, where she shows off her souvenirs and demonstrates the sleeping bag for Asagi. Because her dad says he is too busy, Yotsuba bullies Fuuka into taking her to the park, where they meet her friend Mii and play in the sandbox, making taiyaki and pudding with sand molds. After her dad puts her to bed, Yotsuba wakes up and explores the dark house before finding her father working. The next morning, Ena helps Yotsuba decorate the house for her grandmother’s visit before Yotsuba and her father meet her grandmother at the train station, who Yotsuba attempts to greet with a headbutt. Once they are home, Yotsuba receives souvenirs from her grandma. In the morning, Yotsuba helps her grandmother clean the street in front of the house and later, they clean the house once her grandmother believes Yotsuba is taking cleaning seriously. Yotsuba and her grandmother practice origami with Ena and run errands together before her grandmother has to leave, which Yotsuba attempts to prevent by hiding her luggage. The next day, Yotsuba is sweeping the street in front of the house when Yanda arrives and helps himself to the grilled onigiri Yotsuba had made with her grandmother; at bedtime, Koiwai transforms into Sleepyman to put Yotsuba to sleep.

My Thoughts:

As I’ve written before (I think), I tend to read these on Saturdays. Twice a month I attend a men’s group from church Saturday mornings and it can get pretty weighty and serious. We’ve been working our way through Titus for the last 6 months and have just gotten halfway through chapter 2. We’re serious about our responsibilities as Christian men and while it is always a good and encouraging time, it can be solemn. This past Saturday was such a time.

So it was an extra delight to read this volume. Yotsuba’s grandmother comes to visit and it is everything you’d expect from a 5year old for their grandma. Delightful, fun, heartwarming and fluffy.

I’ve chosen this particular scene because I love seeing Yotsuba experiencing new things. And I completely understand that “shivery but wanting more” feeling myself. It’s not just restricted to 5year olds, hahahahaa.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 12 ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 12
Series: Yotsuba&! #12
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Torako

Yotsuba & Blue

Yotsuba & Helmet

Yotsuba & Halloween

Yotsuba & Camping (part 1)

Yotsuba & Camping (part 2)

From Wikipedia

A short opening sequence shows Yotsuba drawing Danbo in chalk on the street before noticing migrating geese flying overhead. She welcomes Torako to the Ayase household where she shows off her photographs and learns to tie a bow. After arriving to the flower shop too late to help Jumbo paint a desk, Yotsuba finds a can of blue paint in the shoe rack at home and paints a kitchen table while her dad is working, staining her hands and leaving drips and blue footprints throughout the house. She futilely tries to clean up the mess and is confronted by her dad, who laughs instead of scolding her. Before Mr. Koiwai shows her how to use paint thinner, they go to the grocery to purchase ingredients for mapo tofu and a helmet from the bike shop. On Halloween, Fuuka and Miss Stake dress Yotsuba as a pumpkin, explaining how to ask for candy before also dressing in costume to go trick-or-treating together. Early the next morning, Miura’s mom and Ena’s parents see them off for a camping trip organized by Jumbo and Koiwai. Yotsuba is unpleasantly surprised to learn that Yanda has invited himself along, but ends up laughing at his jokes on the journey. At the campsite, the girls help pitch the tent, rest in a hammock, and cook curry for lunch. For dinner, they grill the meat given as a present by the parents and Yotsuba wakes early the next day, surprised by the sunrise simultaneous with the moonset.

My Thoughts:

You know, I’m starting to recognize why I didn’t do many individual manga reviews back when I was tearing through them. It doesn’t help that there’s not a “plot” per se to this series either. This was another wonderfully cute and fluffy set of vignettes that I thoroughly enjoyed and wish I had the words to show that.

This picture is when Yotsuba and gang are going camping and they are driving. Yotsuba and Ena (the neighbor girl) begin playing the Fancy Lady Game, where they talk like how they imagine fancy ladies talk. While I found the panel with Yotsuba talking about “country bumpkins” to be absolutely hilarious, what I enjoyed was just how the manga-ka captured in just a few panels an aspect of childhood, that ability to be imaginative and create a game out of almost anything. Yes, it is idealized but it is also completely true to life. I really like experiencing that for just a few minutes again.

Rating: 5 out of 5.