I guess this is the opposite of the great reading experience. There everything works together to make the thing a delight: the right season, the right weather, the right places where one reads, and a general happiness in the rest of one's life, or at least no major disasters. Turn it around and everything worked to make it a misery: diffuse wanhope, a hideously hot summer, stupid unpleasant people on the ASML, and stupid unpleasant people on every other ML as well.
But here in placid turning-May AS was adequately interesting and no more silly with the Christian details than it had to be. Then I got into vol 10 and remembered, suddenly and forcefully, why I never made it far into 11. Not the plot, though there's a certain falling off in those books, nor the spoiler about Sebothtarte that stopped Fearless Leader in her tracks; but the fact that I was reading them in January of 1999. I can see, even now, the mountains of snow that got dumped on us in two horrible weeks that year. Yes, yes, the rest of Canada can sneer as it pleases about our great snowstorm. The mayor called in the Army and we've never lived it down. The mayor was an idiot, though not for calling in the army: he was worried about ambulances not being able to get through a metre and a half of drifting snow to people having heart attacks and strokes. In other cities when they have a metre and a half of snow I presume people are allowed to die as they please. Whatever. Having four feet of snow dumped on you is not a pleasant experience, if only for the unceasing migraine the weather system induces, and the month that followed was a hell of hurting ankles and twisted knees and frustration. With that background my general distaste for AS turned into immovable dislike, and I stopped reading it.
But this weekend I forged on through 10-- and 11, 12, 13 and 14. Certainly the series improves by a marathon read. I'd have hated to do that one in gekkan phone books, but even individual tanks half a year apart is trying. With two or three plot lines going on simultaneously I simply forget what was happening from tank to tank, not to mention who is who and what were the significant words dropped back in tank 5 that get referred to here in tank 12.
It also improves from my having read more shoujo. Yuki Kaori's style occasionally drives me batty: is she *trying* to appeal to emo teenagers? no, don't answer that one- but once again the woman isn't afraid to use ink; or toner, as it may be. There's also a largeness to her drawing that the classic mangaka, much as I love them, don't have. Bitsy drawings and bitsy text; and the more recent ones have washy lines and lots of white space. With AS one feels one is getting a full meal at last.
So much so that when I finished 14 this afternoon and went to get 15 from the shelf, I was appalled to see that somehow my random 'maybe I'll read it some day' buying in Japan had neglected to get me 16 and 17. I'd been looking forward to another few days curled up on the sofa finishing the thing and now my pleasure was going to be spoiled. Which is why I bicycled down in a gale to Highway Robbery North and bought the requisite volumes for a little under $30. So let it rain now: I have my reading provided. And this time, though it's not a Great Reading Experience, it's a reasonably pleasant one.