The travelling pharmacy: A holiday story

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Part 5: Bridges and boats, rain and manga

Tuesday. Our last full day in Sydney. Didn’t really get the chance to explore the city much. Didn’t get the chance to do too much sight seeing. Tuesday morning we went right into the city, grabbed breakfast and did a bit of shopping. I came across a book store which I think was boasting the largest range of books in Sydney. Kinokuniya Books. My impression of it was that it was kind of like Borders. Or the massive Dymocks in Melbourne. In my transformation into a comic book guy, I spent most of my time browsing the graphic novels and manga.

I left Kinokuniya with the following items: Appleseed (manga) vol 1, xxxHolic (manga) vol 2, Uzumaki (manga) vol 1, Fullmetal Alchemist (manga) 3-in-1 vols 1, 2, 3, and Trigun (anime).

Appleseed, by Shirow Masamune, is awesome. Cyberpunk in the likeness of Ghost in the Shell. But Ghost in the Shell is a bit of a mindfuck, where Appleseed is easier to comprehend. Well, Appleseed vol 1 is easy to comprehend. I can’t really say much for the rest of the series. The artwork is cool, the technology is wicked stylish and the story is intriguing. A woman and her robot friend living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland find themselves in amongst a rebuilt civilisation and trying to fit in to a completely new society.

xxxHolic 2 keeps up the weird mystical storytelling, developing the characters more, and while there’s not nearly as much action as the other stuff I’m reading, it’s really intriguing.

I’ve been meaning to read Uzumaki for a while now. Out of all the manga I’ve bought on this holiday, I’ll probably try to finish this one off first. Mainly because it’s only a three volume series, where most of the others are much longer. Appleseed is four volumes, Nausicaa is six or seven, Battle Royale is 15 (or 5 ultimate collections) Sin City is another six or seven volume series I think, xxxHolic is 19 and Fullmetal Alchemist is 27. If I can finish something, I’d like to finish it. Uzumaki is a horror series about a town that is haunted by spirals. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s some really freaky shit. I’d have to say the most terrifying part of the first volume was where Shuichi’s mother develops a phobia of spirals and cuts off her hair and fingertips to remove the spirals from her body. Then she realises there’s a spiral in her inner ear that she must get rid of. It’s some really freaky shit. Freaky shit.

I wasn’t sure what I’d think about Fullmetal Alchemist. I’ve read the first 2 volumes of the 3-in-1 issue and started on the third, and I’ve been really enjoying it. It’s cool. It’s got lots of action and the whole advanced alchemy thing is pretty wicked. Like xxxHolic, reading the first few manga has got me thinking I’d like the anime. I don’t know if I should read all the manga first or just watch the anime and just gradually work through the books. Because there’s a lot to read.

What I read on holidays

As for Trigun, I’ve only watched two episodes, and while I’m keen on the whole space western bounty hunting thing, I’ve got to watch a few more episodes to get a good idea of the bigger picture. The shows I’ve watched before this – Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gantz – have left some pretty high standards to work off. Those series got right into the action from the get go, quick hooks, and no letting go, and strong characters and plot. I’m enjoying it so far, but I guess I’ll just have to keep watching and see where it goes from there.

After leaving the book shop we walked to Sydney harbour and checked out the bridge and opera house and all that. We did a harbour tour which provided some good views and some interesting information. Then it started to rain. And didn’t want to stop. Then we poked around the public areas of the opera house, which wasn’t a lot, but it was cool to go inside the iconic building.

I’d love to go back to Sydney some day and spend enough time to do the full tourist thing. Do the opera house tour, climb the Sydney harbour bridge, go to Taronga Zoo, stuff like that.

We did a bit more shopping in the evening in the city. Mostly to kill time before dinner and to stay out of the rain without going back to the hotel. I bought a few notepads with six-shooter guns on them to use for my space western and I went to JB Hi-Fi and got some more CDs.

I bought AFI’s first album ‘Answer That and Stay Fashionable’, the Fall of Troy’s self titled first album, and At the Drive-In’s album in/Casino/Out.

AFI’s first album is nothing like their music now. It’s raw, fast hardcore punk that sounds pretty amateur.

I’m loving the Fall of Troy at the moment. What I love about it is that it’s hard and loud and fast like AFI, but the music is way more chaotic. The guitar riffs are quite melodic with irregular patterns that just seem messy, but it just… works.

I haven’t listened to in/Casino/Out, but from what I can gather it’s less intricate and less fine tuned than their later stuff in Relationship of Command. I’d say at Relationship of Command, they were well on their way to becoming the Mars Volta, where in/Casino/Out they’re still heavily in their post-hardcore lo-fi phase.

Next, my dad and I went up the Sydney Sky Tower and got lots of blurry/reflective photos of the city at night in the rain. It’s pretty cool having the tower in the middle of the city, integrated into the shopping centre. Makes it seem very accessible.

We went to the Crown pub for dinner, where I had a good curry lamb and then went back to the hotel to try to get some sleep before flying out early the next morning.

Certainly, one thing about the flights into Sydney and back to Perth was that my ears weren’t causing me pain. Still causing deafness, but not pain. At worst, a bit of a headache.

And here I am, back in sleepy little Perth, still a bit sick and still a bit deaf in one ear. I was supposed to be back at uni on Tuesday, but I missed that class and Wednesday’s classes. So I’ll be spending the next week catching up, getting everything ready for going back to uni, recovering up for work next week (I’m taking a few days off work to recover properly – I think I’ve got something like seven weeks of sick leave saved up anyway…), getting my space western ready for workshopping, and getting a bit of r&r with some reading and watching tv shows.

The holiday wasn’t a complete failure. The shopping experiences were good, the football was alright, catching up with relatives was definitely good, and going to Sydney for the first time was a nice experience. Of course, I would have liked it to have been under better circumstances, what with the sickness and the poor weather and all that…

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