We're jumping over to two Japanese authors for my next two reads!
Vampire Hunter D by is a novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi. It has lovely illustrations interspersed by Yoshitaka Amano. Now, the disambiguation can be a little confusing, because Vampire Hunter D is also the title of the book series (which has 26 novels in it), as well as the manga, anime, and video game that it inspired. I was able to see immediately why all of that followup happened because this book is simply amazing. You could call it a crossover between sci fi and fantasy - although there are vampires, werewolves, and magic this is described as owing to nanotech, unusual power sources, etc rather than anything mystical. I loved this book!! I'm very interesting in trying out the manga as well as the anime.
Battle Angel Alita: Rusty Angel is volume one of the BAA series. This manga was written and illustrated by Yukito Kishiro. The art is absolutely beautiful and possibly one of my favorite things about the manga. I appreciated that this went beyond a basic "she's a beautiful girl, but she's a battle cyborg!" level of engagement to have some philosophical discussions between the heroine and villain. This was also my first time learning about the interesting issue of sound effects in Japanese typically being portrayed as kanji and kana that are worked into the image - this can make them difficult to translate without changing the look of the manga. You can see some examples here.
Really excellent books in both cases. Stay tuned as I move back to memoir for my next review!