Book Review: The Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

The Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is one of the highly recommended books to read. I was never really interested in historical fiction, because it makes me feel like I am reading for school work. Also, I thought this was based on true events and not fiction, and I am not the type to read biographies of such (except maybe the Diary of Anne Frank).

This book was written in a way that the fictional main character, Sayuri, a Geisha from Gion who migrated to New York, recounts her life to a Dutch writer who has become her friend over the years so he can write a book about her. It starts with a translator’s note from Jakob Haarhuis, a professor of Japanese History like the real author Arthur Golden. He briefly explains their tape recording sessions and of how Sayuri narrates her life. This genius move actually conditioned my brain to think that this was solely based on true events and not made up.

Sayuri was born as Chiyo to a poor family in Yoroido and was sold off to an okiya, a Geisha house when she was young, and her sister as a prostitute. Her mother was dying and her father was too old to care for them. Chiyo tries to run away but was caught, and therefore sentenced to being a house maid. However, circumstances gave way for her to train to become an apprentice under a successful Geisha named Mameha. The book reflects on her life during the 1930s and 1940s.

I was fascinated about the art of the Geisha from Golden’s point of view, as I felt like I was listening to Sayuri herself. I have to admit that some scenes would have made more impact if they were written directly, as Golden wrote poetically in the narrative. I think that was the whole point, though, since it is being told from a Geisha’s point of view, and in Japanese traditional culture women are not often direct. This has also made me realize that there is more to Geisha art than just entertainment, they have ceremonies for events that would have been otherwise not openly talked about in our society like the Mizuage, where wealthy man bid for the virginity of a Maiko (apprentice Geisha), or the taking of a Danna, where basically the Geisha is tied to a certain man who keeps her as his mistress.

Let’s get real here folks, you’d be looked down if this was something you practice, although it is apparent in our society. People lose their virginity like it is nothing, and there are many involved in a polygamous relationship. It’s not as if it isn’t done, we just have a different outlook on it. The Geisha, though, regards this as an art and when you read it from the book, it indeed sounds like art.

I personally did not connect with Sayuri. I think she was a flat character and grew boring over time. Chiyo is a different story, she is a little girl who views the world with open eyes. I think this has to do on how the Geisha life has affected her and molded her into one who cares about social standings and appearances. I also find the other characters, especially the men, just interested in taking her for their own but I guess that is just how their work is. In all fairness, a Geisha’s success depends on her clients and of how influential they are. Now that I think of it, I know Sayuri really loved the Chairman all her life but it doesn’t change the fact that she was still a kept mistress to him, while his wife took care of everything else.

I try to be neutral in this but I think my words are coming out wrong when I talk about the Geisha life, but I swear it doesn’t sound like prostitution when you read it from the book. It is rather best if you read it and share your thoughts to me.

Overall Rating: Image result for starsImage result for starsImage result for stars

TV Review: The Umbrella Academy (Season 1)

A Netflix adaptation of the comic series of the same title by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, published by Dark Horse Comics.

I wasn’t a fan of Netflix. I felt like spending hours of my life just sitting and watching is a waste of time. I prefer to do something productive like write, draw, or read. But joke’s on me because I can’t seem to get enough of watching Netflix that it’s now a part of my daily routine.

I also try to not indulge myself into things that are “hyped” at the moment, so on the choice of what to watch, I did not want to start with the most popular one, (take a guess, you’re probably watching it.) I tried to look into the short clips they upload on Facebook and set my eyes on Peaky Blinders and The Umbrella Academy. Prior to watching the Umbrella Academy series, I thought it was about some kids trying to be superheroes without the superpowers. With those mask of theirs, I thought they were a rip off from Teen Titans because that definitely looks like Robin’s mask. I guess it is not far off from that.

Let me just remind you guys out there that even though this series was based from the comics, I have never read any of the material. I know this is a mortal sin, and as a reader I read the books first before I try to watch any adaptation of it. However, I must admit that I am not much of a comic book fan, so my opinions will solely be based on the TV series instead.


On October 1, 1989, there were 43 kids who were born on exactly the same day under impossible circumstances, as the mothers who gave birth to them were not pregnant prior to the said day. Seven of those kids were adopted by the billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves and he honed them into a superhero team called The Umbrella Academy.

He gives them no names, but rather numbers them according to their abilities, although later on their robot nanny Grace gives them one. Number One (Luther), has super strength. Number Two (Diego), has the ability to curve the trajectory of anything he throws, which are usually knives. Number Three (Allison), can manipulate minds with the phrase “I heard a rumor.” Number Four (Klaus), can communicate with the dead and make them corporeal. Number Five (his only name), can jump through space and time. Number Six (Ben), can summon tentacled horrors from his body, who died early from one of their missions and could only talk to Klaus. Number Seven (Vanya), was led to believe that she had no abilities until she discovered that she could convert sound waves into a destructive force.

Given the situation, they grew up in a kind of disciplinarian training. They part ways as they grow up and the series start with an introduction of their dysfunctional adult lives. Luther resides on the moon as per his father’s command, Diego continues the rogue hero life, Allison is an actress but a divorcee who lost custody of her child, Klaus is a drug addict who occasionally talks to his dead brother Ben, and Vanya depends on the drugs prescribed to her to keep her powers in check. Five finds them back from the future after being lost in it when they were young to stop the apocalypse.

Now, this is actually the second series I’ve watched. I finished Peaky Blinders first, and it was so good that my standards have been set high. The first episodes of The Umbrella Academy were boring. There’s just no way to put it. I think there were just too many factors to consider, and as they started on a high climax with Five coming back from the future, some things just did not make sense. I had to read some summaries online to understand it better.

However, as the story unfolds, I find it interesting to know what would happen next. I began to pay attention to the details. I especially like the intros. I know it’s a petty thing but I find it creative how they insert the title on random things like an umbrella someone is holding, or the headline of a newspaper. Every song in each episode has been thought of well, although at first it was kind of irrelevant.

The plot is like food with after taste, you would only get to appreciate it as you get on with the story. The last episodes, though, especially the ending is something that will make me watch out for Season 2.

Like I’ve said, I did not read the comics to have a comparison for the characters but I think they fit well enough. Ellen Page (Vanya) is doing a good job, and I am saying this because I was really irritated at her character and her personal issues. I think it was too petty to cause a great apocalypse, I wish they expanded the back story more to give her a sense of otherness instead of being just weird. Klaus is probably the best character, though to be fair with his type of personality, one’s acting skills will really be honed. My personal favourite is Number Five. He is exceptional in his portrayal of an old man trapped in a young boy’s body. I often wonder why he’s put at fifth place when his powers are unlimited.

I don’t want to go further unless you’ve already watched it, but I must say that I am curious on where they will take the story next since they’ve solved (or not) the biggest issue in Season 1. It is a pretty diverse cast who are doing their roles well enough, I hope they highlight more of their personalities and don’t just focus on them being discarded as kids. I am not saying it is a small issue, but after all they have been through it is not enough to blame it on old daddy who forced them to live up to their potentials.

Overall Rating: 7/10