12 Rules for life by Jordan B. Peterson

I read this book mostly covered in vomit. (As one might be inclined to do) My daughter threw up in her bed. While my wife stripped the sheets I cradled the neophyte girl, who briefly stared into my eyes… and then painted me with peas, carrots and milk (origin both boob and bovine).

Sufficed to say with more upchuck likely in my foreseeable future I settled back down in my chair with my single shot grande and only a perfunctory effort to clean myself. Thirty minutes later I was back in there dealing with more bile. (And then ten minutes after that) (and then an hour after that) ad infinitum.

During episodes where we scrounged for sheets and cleans pajamas I read 12 rules. (Shit title, I blame Tim Ferriss for this slew of lazy literary designations)

Let me start off by saying up until today I didn’t know anything about Jordan B. Peterson. (Kinda sad I know) I don’t really follow the news (other than in a very general sense) and for me identity politics is a serious non sequitur, that interests me about as much as fairies and crystals do. I’m constantly shocked and amazed that this has become a ‘thing’.

I also, up until today, didn’t know anything about the infamous Cathy Newman interview. And the meme storm that followed…

(This one is my favorite)

All I can say is ‘Jesus that escalated quickly’ (having now watched it). Kudos to Jordan for his supreme stoicism in the face of unrelenting awfulness. I doubt I would have remained so composed.

In any event after having listened to Jordan during my commute and then later on my run I decided that I really liked him. (Well… enough to blow $25 on his book) ouch!

This book starts with a forward. Which immediately gets my hackles up. For some reason I get the feeling that the publishers thought this was a good idea. Its long and wordy and I found myself skipping sections (my internet addled brain). It reads like a character witness. Jordan B. Peterson is not the motherfucker he’s been made out to be.

Blah, blah, blah. I thought it was superfluous. Let the work speak for itself, it doesn’t need an anteambulo.

Eventually (with a machete) I got to the first rule. Which involves Lobsters.

Wait…

I have to quote this line. Because it’s so bad. (It’s even worse when taken out of context)

Lobsters have more in common with you than you might think (particularly when you are feeling crabby – ha ha).’

It’s like a dad joke.

I don’t know why, but sitting there in the gloom, hunched over my kindle app and smelling like curdled milk this line really irritated me. (More than it should have)

In all honesty I struggled to read this book. Although it took me a while to figure out why. Jordan’s sentence structure doesn’t agree with me. I know that’s a weird criticism but I often found myself having to re-read his sentences. I imagined them too long and disjointed somehow (personal preference I guess, but it also might be because I’m relatively stupid) He also uses the Oxford comma. Which… while grammatically sound… I’m not used to it. It freaks me out. (I know, derailed by a comma)

I’m finding it harder and harder to find books in this genre that I like. This isn’t Jordan’s fault. I think I may have reached some level of saturation. Maybe I need a break. Or maybe a Shakabuku*

*a swift spiritual kick to the head (I think it’s from Grosse pointe blank)

Jordan in a spoken word format resonated quite deeply with me. That didn’t translate into text (for me at least). I think this is a case of different strokes for different folks. I do however plan on seeking out more podcasts with Jordan as a speaker, he’s very clever, eloquent and comes highly recommended.

Shongololo’s and short-attacks

So far my day has been carbohydrate free. I’ve been compensating by hitting the coffee particularly hard, which means I currently occupy that point in space/time where a well caffeinated person can feel the rotation of the earth. I can confirm that our planet is indeed more or less spherical… and that we are moving untethered through the universe at, what some might deem, a ludicrous speed. Stop the bus. I want to get off.

Earlier in the day I received a visitor.

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Apparently there is some consternation among my staff as to whether the colloquialism* for this creature should be shongololo (Zulu), songololo (Xhosa) or Duisandpoot (Afrikaans). Since I’m the boss I’m going make a ruling that it needs to be referred to by its franca lingua. Ie. Millipede. Although no one other than me wants to experience the millipede tickle.

*hey… that’s a real word. I know this because its not underlined in red. I’m just going to assume it means what I think it means.

There’s a mini-blood bath happening on the stock market here today. A US firm is short-attacking one of our banks. Its a thing of beauty.

Seriously, I am awe stuck. Basically they’ve taken a massive short position on the bank and then released a report alluding to the solvency of said bank. Share price is down 18% as of writing. (although it looks like it might be bouncing) If they’re clever (and I think they are) they have kept some of their powder dry and will trickle-feed more rumors into the market which will drive down the price even further once the speculators shore up the price a bit. The lower they can drive the price, the more money they make. Its like watching financial blitzkrieg. This sort of thing never happens in our market (so they don’t know how to defend against it, in all honestly I don’t think this level of hostility even occurred to them). Plus local sentiment is already quite skittish, so investors are bailing.

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Its hurting me a little bit. (I’m down about 3%) But its not every day you get to appreciate such alluring game theory and consumer psychology. Its quite sexy. (its the board-gamer in me)

And also total legal. (In case you’re wondering) Downside is that thousands of people could loose their jobs and depositors (mostly poor people) could loose their money. I think that’s unlikely. But possible.

Rat-on-a-rope

I’ve had a lot of weird stuff thrown at me during the course of my life. I’m putting Rat-on-a-rope at the top of the list.

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I should probably mention that the rat is, in its present condition, very much deceased. Although whether it died on impact or was dead prior to becoming airborne is not immediately clear to me. I am not a detective, nor did I feel comfortable checking the rigor status of the recently departed rodent.

I was likely NOT the intended recipient of the arium rattus. I just happened to be in the general vicinity when it fell from the sky. It came sailing over a five meter high wall at the back of my warehouse, (I sometimes go sit in the sun on the container ramp and eat my lunch) so I have no idea who launched it.

Perplexed I wondered what I should do. Was this a game? Was someone waiting on the other side of the wall ready to receive? I imagined some indigent, Goonie* type monster with no friends, casting out into the world, willing someone to play catch. 

*I realize this may date me.

My day actually started off with another dead body. I don’t know that person died either. They were covered in foil which in turn was weighed down with bricks and bits of detritus to stop it blowing away (the foil I mean). Two uniformed officers were busy taping off the area with that ubiquitous yellow tape. It annoyed me because it was causing traffic to bottleneck. Hopefully my legacy on this planet is not to fuck up traffic for an hour.

I don’t think the two cases are related.

But as I’ve said, I am not a detective.

Way of the warrior kid by Jocko Willink

Let me say right near the beginning that I really liked this book. I imagine that once I get about half way into my tirade it might not seem like it.

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You know that saying, ‘You should never meet your heroes’. In keeping with modernity perhaps it should be updated. ‘Never follow your heroes on twitter’. Or on YouTube for that matter.

I tend to build up the authors that I like as infallible seers or ubermenschen. Impressed with what they’ve committed to text I seek them out on other media platforms hoping glean new knowledge. Inevitably I am disappointed. We are after all just humans, with our blemishes and flaws, niche expertise and subjective opinions.

 

Except me obviously. (I’m perfect)

Ha ha.

I mention this because I need to balance my crush on Jocko Willink with some moderation.

If I reduced and distill my gripe its probably with the word ‘warrior’. I worry about people that use that word. And I worry about people that want to be ‘this’ word. Don’t misunderstand me, I appreciate that human existence on this planet is less than idyllic and that one group of humans needs from time to time to assert dominance over another group to achieve some sort of goal through violence of action. And that this is usually done through the warrior caste. I get that.

My concern is that people consider this particular noun first when they describe themselves. Interestingly I have no issue with someone describing themselves as a philosopher who also happens to be a warrior. But a warrior who is also a philosopher makes me hesitate. Maybe I’m just arguing potato semantics, but I find the distinction important. I think a world full of warriors would be a poorer place. Sun Tzu famous mused that war needs to be a highly considered enterprise and that warriors have a very specific task of tearing civilization down. Not so easy to build it back up again. I think as a society we have become far too flippant about war and the warriors that perpetrate this course of action.

On the reverse side, kids don’t get that. And this is a kids book. All I wanted to be growing up was a warrior. (Although I wanted to go to Ranger school) We are primal, savage mammals who want to (pretend) rend and maim our enemies. Its only later in life that we get some perspective.

Then there’s the author, whose jingoism and ethical ambiguity on Fox and friends recently made me feel super uncomfortable. This is why I hate social media. All of a sudden you’re exposed to everyone’s thoughts be they inane and banal or just contrary to your own. The amusing impressionist reality you’ve crafted yourself lies in tatters at your feet.

Fortunately The way of the Warrior kid is not about moral philosophy. Its about a kid called Marc and his quest for self improvement (something I can definitely get behind)

 

 

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Marc sucks at pull-ups, can’t do maths, eats a lot of crap, can’t swim and gets bullied at school. (don’t worry Marc I suck at pull-ups and maths too). Marc’s mom’s brother Jake comes to stay with them for a bit. Jake is a Navy Seal. Jake turns Marc’s life around.

(the above represents an over simplified synopsis)

I must be honest, the whole time it took me to read this book (about an hour) I kept thinking, where is Marc’s dead-beat dad? And why is your mom letting you eat all this crappy food? (I get all judgmental about fictional parenting faux-pas as I see them)

After reading this book, I went and stood at the pull-up bar at gym. Unfortunately in my gym that’s right in the center with everything else arrayed around this focal point of embarrassment. I imagine this is done on purpose so that everyone can see how pathetic you are. I had, up until this point never in my whole life done a pull-up. But how hard can it be right?

I jumped up and hung there for a moment.

‘Oh my god’, I thought as my shoulders and arms protested this strange new form of abuse. (Looking back, I think its because I masturbate less now, so my forearms have gotten weak from lack of use) Maybe I could just hang here for a bit. You know, pretend I’m just… stretching out my spine. Or something. The guy across from me is squatting like a gazzillion pounds. I never venture into this part of the gym (other than to use the heavy bag), mostly because nothing I own comes without sleeves nor do I possess any really short, shorts. (this seems to be a prerequisite)

I grit my teeth and ignore the noise that sounds like tearing fabric coming from the large muscle groups in my back. Okay, one pull up. Just one, I think to myself. I grit my teeth and… do this weird kicking thing with my legs like a dying bug.

I’d like to say I got about half way before failing. But… the reality is probably less kind than that.

Okay, so doing a pull-up is quite hard. (its on my to-do list for this year)

The thing about this book is that I agree with almost everything in it. I think all kids should jump of bridges and swim in rivers. And do martial arts. My personal proclivity is boxing and Jujitsu. but really any style is OK when you’re a kid.

Kids should be outside and active, not domiciled in front of their tablets.

If nothing else this book inspired me to try and do some pull-ups. There are few books out there that will make you get up and take come concrete actions. So for that I need to give Jocko some serious credit. I might not agree with his personal ideology, but I think this book is a good thing.

Hide and seek

The little person surreptitiously hid away my keys before story time last night. This lead to an increasingly more frantic search this morning as I upended the house searching for them. Eventually she woke up. ‘Do you know where you put daddy’s keys?’

(Almost) Two year old’s are naturally resistant to interrogation I’ve found. ‘Me, funny’ and then running down the passage, doesn’t, as you might imagine, give you very much to work with. Especially when you’ve just gone through the trash (outside, in the pouring rain)

She had at some point during the evening, likely when I was supine on the sofa and preoccupied with my phone, clandestinely concealed them in her puzzle box. You know the one that comes with predetermined cut-outs and you’re supposed to put the correct shape in the correct slot. (I’ve gotten quite good at this)

‘Hey guys, help me look for my keys’

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‘Zzzzzzzzz… zzzzzzzz’

Eventually my wife found them. She has better instincts for what little people might do with objects of desire (keys, iPhone’s and credit cards). In fact without assistance I would still be wandering aimlessly through the house, likely mewling and feeling sorry for myself. (this is kinda my go-to response to frustrating events)

South Africans find moisture very challenging and now delayed, my morning commute became the aquatic version of ‘Fury Road’.

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It also meant that going to gym died stillborn.

On the plus side I did get my 400% badge yesterday. (required another 30 minutes of shadow boxing and push ups in my pajamas)

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I feel like one of the cool kids now. Whether or not this will allow me to sit with the cheerleaders and football jocks remains to be seen.

I am however, hopeful.

Happy Saint Joey’s Day

Statistically the 23rd of January is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. (Northern hemisphere winter and also the day that people are supposedly the most broke) It is also my birthday. Which is either auspicious. Or suspicious depending on where you stand.

While not yet officially canonized by the Catholic church, Joey has preempted matters somewhat. Saint Joey, patron saint of procrastinators and lost causes. I’m assuming those haven’t been taken yet (although I’m not exactly current on the sainthood spheres of influence). I will now preform the first of many miracles by making this three egg omelet disappear.

Today I am 39 rotations.

Which I always imagined was ridiculously ancient.

I must be honest I am quite glad to be here. I almost didn’t make it. This time last year I was still reeling from the after effects of a pulmonary embolism.

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Δ An MRI, post embolism and subsequent express train to my lungs. I developed a clot on my right forearm just under my elbow which disintegrated and the associated shrapnel from that lodged in my lungs. Apparently this is quite unusual, since I had none of the risk factors, possibly a boxing or jujitsu injury. Although no one can tell me for sure. Interestingly this is what killed Theodore Roosevelt (my all time favorite human)

Better in my lungs than in my brain.

I started today at 4am with a mini-triathlon.

Emphasis on the word mini. 5km round the track. 5mi on the stationary bike and then 500mtrs in the pool.  I’ve decided that I don’t really want to turn forty and be more or less the same person I was when I was turning thirty nine. That seems a little defeatist. I’d like to better… stronger, faster and smarter.

The latter might be beyond my control, but maybe I can do something about the other two.

Looking back on thirty eight I did learn a couple of things…

  1. Don’t chop up chilies and then go down on your wife (or probably anyone for that matter)
  2. Heel cream is NOT toothpaste, even when enclosed in similar packaging with similar viscosity
  3. If it tastes funny, stop brushing.
  4. Your child vomiting on you is less onerous than your date vomiting on you. (which is very onerous)
  5. Operating on yourself with a pair of nail scissors may not lead to optimum results
  6. And also infection.
  7. And finally… my co-workers may be smarter than I give them credit for…

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(This decoy didn’t work. Or rather, didn’t work for as long as I had intended)

I got nifty birthday presents. Every year I say ‘oh, I’m fine, I don’t really need anything’. When I was eighteen my parents gave me a self-help book (Don’t sweat the small stuff) and a chess set with missing pieces. (I’m still wondering if by small stuff they might have been referring to the missing pawns) Which leads me to believe that maybe I should have rather asked for something. Things have improved dramatically since then…

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These days people ‘get me’. Joey-polis is getting some public transport. They’ve always had a very good rail system. But the addition of a bus service will definitely help out my citizens.

In other news I have finally updated my Fundamental Joeyism page into something I am happy with (took me a while)

Anyways, wishing you all a very happy Saint Joey’s day. Hopefully it is of the extremely groovy variety. May your hemorrhoids never hang like grapes.

The dramatization of an otherwise trivial event.

I stood on a bee. (Not just any ordinary honey bee, an African killer bee*)

*I’m trying to make this story sound more dramatic than it really was.

Barefoot and almost naked, I had just come to the conclusion that frying up bacon in my boxer shorts wasn’t the greatest idea in the world (after getting bacon fat spattered in the general direction of my nipples). I had just stepped over to don my Nelson Mandela apron when I stood on the errant bee. If only I still had hobbit feet.

There was the perfunctory utterance of profanity and then I shouted for my wife (as one does) who expertly tweezed the sting and associated poison sac from my foot. (While I lay back on the bed and fought the urge to go towards the light)

This is the second bee I’ve stood on recently. Prior to that I’d gone twenty years without any close encounters of the bee kind. The last time I got stung (when I was in junior high) I swelled up like a basketball and they told me I was allergic. In addition to this life altering news they said that I should carry round this vial of blue pills (unfortunately not the matrix kind) with me at all times, which would hopefully allay my demise. I don’t think epi-pens were a thing back then yet. I lost the vial shortly thereafter… but I have been telling everyone since then (from the dietitian to the anesthetist) that I am allergic to bees.

‘As requested we have brought you the corpse of the purple-traitor’

The problem with wondering if you’re going to go into anaphylactic shock is you start stressing about going into anaphylactic shock. Which sounds stupid, but I was fully expecting my throat to close up and choke to death. My blood pressure and heart rate spiked dramatically (a sure sign of things to come I imagined). To cut a harrowing twenty minute story short, I didn’t die. In fact the entire episode was completely self fabricated. Turns out I’m not allergic to bees. Not even slightly, other than in my mind. I think there might be a life lesson in there somewhere. (Like don’t trust doctors*)

*yeah, this is my takeaway.

Sufficed to say this bee sting episode was a lot less traumatic than the previous one. Which was kinda embarrassing. I clocked 5.4km round the track and then 500mtrs in the pool this morning with (almost*) no ill effects.

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* other than to my pride. I was lapped round the track by a guy with a serious impediment. His right foot was almost at a right angle to his left foot, which looks really awkward and you might suppose he wouldn’t be able to bring the pace… but there he was. In my defense I had a bee sting!

Tomorrow I will train harder.

Lupus, pie and chilies that can burn your face off.

How does it go again? What’s worse than finding a toenail in your pie? Finding the bandaid that was holding it on.

I generally avoid savory pies for this reason. For me pies have always conjured up the image of a man in gumboots mopping the slaughterhouse floor, corralling all the beef detritus into the central drain and then shoveling it into a bucket (later to be combined with ground up hooves and snouts). That’s the meat destined for your pepper steak pie.

We took my daughter for a hair cut this weekend. Which is weirdly exciting for me because the kiddies barbershop has a very decent bookshop next door and across from them is a Morroccan restaurant.

The Morroccan restaurant sells lamb pies. (I love North African food)

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I make a massive exception to my rule for these. They are remarkably delicious, combining the two ambrosia like elements of lamb and pastry. They also don’t skimp on the meat. Just thinking about it makes me salivate uncontrollably.

The little person is taking her afternoon siesta. It’s been a rough morning of arts and crafts and playing Duplo.

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‘Look daddy a cute little lion cub’ OMG BEHIND YOU!!!! (I try and teach my daughter useful survival skills through allegory)

I have my free hour now (maybe an hour an a half if I’m lucky) to kick back and blog. I’ve been joined by a creature. (In our house the humans lie on the floor)

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My German has lupus. Which is why her nose looks a little raw. I know it’s NEVER lupus (Dr. House) but in her case it really is.

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Have some Lupus dad. Right in your eye hole.

For lunch we made sticky teriyaki aubergine. As a Christmas present my sister gave me this…

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Generally I find Jamie Oliver receipes quite hit or miss. We’ve been slowly working our way through this one since Yuletide. So far its mostly been quite good. The sticky teriyaki aubergine today was excellent, and more importantly used stuff from my garden almost exclusively. Except peanuts. And teriyaki sauce.

Maybe next time with slightly less chili. My crop this year has largely been a disaster. I had quite high hopes planting Telica (my all time favorite eating chili), habaneros, Tabasco and chocolate flavored varieties. Only a hail storm in early spring  annihilated all my seedlings save three plants. The lone jalapeño that survived can pit titanium as far as I’m concerned. Goddamn!

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In other news I plan to round out my afternoon furlough with 30 minutes of PlayStation. (Hopefully) In fact I should start with that… now.

Terraforming Mars

There are two types of board gamers in this world. Those that churn through board games at a prodigious rate and those that have become too poor. Having bred and shortly thereafter realising how expensive little people are, I have in the last 20 months hugely curtailed my boardgame spend. Little people also hamper boardgaming in other more insidious and not immediately foreseeable ways. They exhaust you to the point where given the choice between sleeping or committing six hours to a board game where you have to strategize and connive to stab* your best friends in the back (sometimes in the front)… sleep tends to win out.

* My board gaming group is hyper competitive (and completely amoral)

 

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I’ve heard a lot about this game. All goods things. So I was excited to have a go. In my venerable status as a gnarly old veteran (soon to be 39) this required some prep work.  I had to achieve the right level of caffeination pregame and then do regular maintenance throughout the evening. There would be a two beer limit and a moratorium on toking on anything containing Tetrahydrocannabinol. I needed to sustain a ninja like focus. (also I tend to break furniture and spill things at the best of times, a trait only amplified by THC)

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We played a three player game. I drew Thorgate as my corporation. Essentially the power generation specialists. Their special ability allows you to pay 3 less when you pay for card that has a power ‘tag’. For example this Power point card cost me 1 to play.

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The point of the game is to terraform Mars (which you may have gathered from the title) To do this you need to raise the temperature (from -30C) of the planet by creating an atmosphere along with at least 14% oxygen. (earth has about 21% oxygen at sea level in case that sounds weird to you)

Initially, since I was the ‘power’ Corp I thought it would be a good strategy to create lots of ‘cheap’ energy (which gets converted into heat)

I really struggled with my initial draw and one of my friends started generating lots of heat, completely out pacing me in that competitive sphere. Instead of playing catch up I decided to change my strategy. I started building habitats and since my buddies were doing all the hard terraforming by raising the temperature by releasing carbon into the atmosphere and crashing asteroids in the surface I concentrated on getting the ecosystem established by importing methane from Titan and growing Lichen on rocks.

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Having raised the temperature sufficiently my opponents shifted gear and ramped up their infrastructure. The end score was quite close with me and my friend Marco both ending on 72 points each. He managed to win the tie breaker because his money production was far superior to mine giving him the win.

I really like this game and I can see it become one of my favorites. I’m giving it a friendship ending rating of :

1/5*

*as a term of reference, Tokaido rates 0/5, ie no chance of losing friends and Through the ages 4.9/5, almost guaranteed to end in fisticuffs and burning down someone’s house.

I really like the mechanics of Terraforming Mars. As an aside we played with the card draft rule which I thought was really cool and worked well. I love the science and the flavour of each card. While there are a couple of ‘attack’ cards, this is a pretty peaceful game, it has none of the violence of action that Eclipse or Twilight Imperium has, where if you fall behind you die (again this might only be my gaming group… I have played in groups where betrayal is actively frowned upon)

Great game. Had lots of fun. Definitely keen to play it again.

Okko – Cycle of water (comic book)

Okko has been a favourite of mine for about a decade now. (It suddenly dawns on me that I’m advancing in years*)

*and still reading comic books.

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Okko is a French comic. Its written and illustrated by Humbert Chabuel (who goes by the nom de plume HUB) and then colored by Humbert Chabuel and Stephan Pecayo. Some lengthy period of time would pass after the French version was released and then eventually we would get an english translation. The release schedule was jerky, sporadic and frustrating. But since all four cycles are now available this has become a bit of a mute point. It published by Archaia Studios Press which stables another one of my favorites, Mouse Guard.

Okko follows the story of a Ronin-esque type demon hunter called Okko and his various misadventures. He is joined on his sojourn by his friend (maybe retainer is more apt) Noburo, a half demon warrior and a alcoholic monk called Noshin. The monk also gets an apprentice at the end of the first cycle.

The story takes place in a fictional realm called Pajan which mimics medieval Japan, specifically the Sengoku jidai period. Its meant for older audiences as it is often quite violent, bloody and features some nudity (sometimes all in the same panel). Which means twelve year old me would have LOVED it!

Older more discerning Joey likes Okko for a myriad of reasons other than the occasional display of boobs. It’s different from an American style of comic book. Not in a good or a bad way, it just has a different feel and flavor. I’ve heard Okko referred to as Franco-manga. (Which I thought was quite clever) It also has a lot more panels per page than your average Americana. (This makes it feel quite busy, but you get used to it quickly)

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It’s a very pretty comic and I really like the flow. It feels very cinematic and I was thoroughly entertained throughout. I also like the world build. It feels very solid, with its own intricacy, depth and mythology. If do have a criticism is that this fantastic world only serves as a simple backdrop. You never get to peel back any of the layers. That’s partly due to the main protagonist, Okko, who is a gruff, humourless… monster killer. He doesn’t have time to fuck around and smell the flowers. In fact you never quite get to understand Okko or what motivates him. Which I thought was pity. HUB spent a lot of time and effort thinking about his world, it deserved more glory.

The Japanophile in me loves this series. But I think it would a appeal to someone who just wants to be entertained, read a cool story and look at pretty pictures.