It hasn’t been that long since my previous manga post, but as I said back then, I only managed to cover a small fraction of the series I’ve picked up since the summer! This time I’ll be focusing on some of my recent online purchases… but first, I’ll share some more up to date pictures of my collection, just to show
off how much it has grown.
The main change to this area is the rapidly growing collection of ‘oversized’ manga in front of the shelves, as they won’t fit anywhere else! And if I get many more, they won’t fit there either… Hidden behind that lot are the complete series of Love Hina, Kieli, DearS, NGE Angelic Days and Heaven’s Will.
Before, all I had over here was a few volumes of Rave Master, Gunsmith Cats and my Spice & Wolf light novels. The novels have since been re-homed, and this area has now been designated the TokyoPile. The smaller piles at the front are volumes I haven’t read yet, with the ‘high priority’ reads in the centre of the picture. At the back and out of sight we have CLAMP’s Suki and The Legend of Chun Hyang, Le Portrait de Petite Cosette, Alichino, Glass Wings and of course Rave Master.
Out of sight but never truly out of mind, these are series that I’m unlikely to finish due to the publishers dropping them and/or going bust. Battle Vixens, Strawberry Marshmallow, Maria+Holic, Sgt. Frog, Elemental Gelade and more make up the list of casualties. Also there are my old, random Viz and Dark Horse issues, and a few volumes of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei – I’m not sure whether that’s been dropped by Kodansha or not, but either way I’m missing volume three, and don’t have £100 spare to buy it.
Ah, the good old swiveling bookcase. I could do with another twelve of these. I mean seriously, how can it be full already when I’ve got all those books by my bed, waiting to move in once I’ve read them? Surely there must be room for another 10 volumes of Dr. Slump on that top shelf? No?
Finally, there’s the space behind my desktop where I keep most of my DelRey-Tanoshimi-Kodansha titles, which are the only manga visible. If you read my first manga post and have a very good memory, you may recall them being piled against a wall earlier this year… that was before it became a flood zone. Also tucked away behind there are Alien Nine, Tezuka’s Princess Knight and MW, my Clover omnibus, the newly re-homed Spice & Wolf novels, and my one and only Korean manhwa title One Fine Day.
That’s everything… for now. But when I look at these pictures and see how much my collection has grown in a single year, I do honestly wonder where I’m going to put next year’s purchases. I know I’m going to want to keep buying, and my hoarder mentality means that selling is something I’d rather not have to consider. But ah well, I’ll deal with that when the time comes. Now, onto the main topic of this post! The five titles I’m going to be summarizing this time are:
Status: 5 of 18 volumes read.
Why I picked it up: A few years ago I sampled scanlations of the first chapters of two or three licensed manga series, just to help me decide which one(s) to buy. Dr. Slump ended up losing to Yotsuba&! at the time, but it stuck in my mind ever since, so I finally decided to give it a chance.
Presentation: Standard Viz Shonen Jump look and quality, no real complaints. Apparently parts have been censored, and I’m still not sure what my opinions on that matter are, but it certainly hasn’t affected my enjoyment of the series so far.
Content: It’s labeled ‘Teen’, but the majority of the humour seems to be aimed at even younger audiences than that – or do thirteen year-olds still laugh at the repeated mention of the word ‘poop’? I assume it’s the large amount of smoking and the slightly perverted (but mostly harmless and never explicit) antics of the Doctor that led to the rating. Clearly it was all acceptable for kids in 1980s Japan, at least!
Overall Thoughts: It’s not amazing, it’s starting to get very repetitive at just five volumes, and I feel a little to old for it… but I will finish what I’ve started, especially after paying £50 for one of the rarer volumes! On the plus side, the short chapters make for ideal reading on the short train journey to work, it does make me laugh occasionally, and I feel it’s an important piece of manga history – I wonder how many Dragon Ball Z fans know that Akira Toriyama’s debut work was this gag manga?
Status: 3 of 3 volumes read (note that there are five volumes in Japan, but all the chapters got squeezed into three large omnibus volumes for release in the USA).
Why I picked it up: I’ve already read Outlanders (see post #2 for that) by the same manga-ka, Johji Manabe, and while the plot wasn’t anything special it was a fun read, and the character designs were gorgeous. It was mostly those character designs that tempted me into Caravan Kidd, I’ll admit. Got to love the ’80s!
Presentation: They’re flipped to read like western comics, and are just as tall as my Outlanders volumes, but nearly twice as thick due to their having five volumes worth of chapters squeezed into them. Easily the biggest volumes I own. Another difference between Caravan Kidd and Outlanders is that it ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE MANGA from the outside, featuring large images of the series’ main character Mian Toris on the front covers!
Content: Sci-fi, fantasy, romance, comedy, it has the lot – but mostly the latter. Most reviews and opinions I’ve read about Caravan Kidd state somewhere or other that it’s not quite as good as Outlanders. In terms of plot, I’d agree that it wasn’t as strong, but when it comes to the characters I much preferred those in Caravan Kidd – feisty Mian and money-loving Babo in particular.
Overall Thoughts: An overlooked and underrated classic, in my opinion.
Status: 3 of 3 volumes read.
Why I picked it up: I have always been a fan of the anime… I’m actually surprised that I left it so long before picking up the manga! I guess the old me would have cringed at the whole ‘flipped to read like western comics’ thing that was the norm back in the 90s – early 2000s, but I’m clearly over that.
Presentation: They’re what I consider to be ‘regular sized’, as in they don’t look out of place next to my Viz and Tokyopop volumes. Again, the character designs and artwork are a big part of the series’ appeal to me.
Content: Basically, this reads like Dungeons and Dragons: The Manga. The party is made up of a knight, a cleric, a wizard, a rogue, a dwarven fighter and an elven druid (the usual racial tensions apply there). In the first volume, they spend two whole pages trying to get through a locked door – after bashing it down and picking the lock fail, they eventually unseal it using magic. I don’t know why, but I LOVE IT! On a more serious note, it has a simple (generic even) but enjoyable storyline and likable characters.
Overall Thoughts: A bit rushed, particularly towards the end, I’d say the OVA told the story better than this manga adaptation. Worth a look if you’re a fan of D&D or high fantasy in general, though!
Status: 1 of 1 volume read.
Why I picked it up: Partly because I’m already a fan of the manga-ka Kaoru Mori from her more recent work A Bride’s Story (another series I’ve discussed before), and partly just because I like single volume manga, as I can pick them up and know I won’t have to worry about finding space for the rest of the series.
Presentation: Regular sized and with a very nice picture on the front cover. The art inside was somehow both rough and detailed at the same time – not as polished as in A Bride’s Story, but considering Shirley was a much earlier work it still looks great.
Content: The first five chapters follow the story of the titular Shirley, who at only 13 years old ends up working as a maid for Miss Bennett, a young lady who runs a local pub and previously lived by herself. From there it’s pretty much all slice-of-life, maid moe, and the occasional bit of drama to justify CMX’s label. The fifth chapter didn’t feel like much of an ending, however (and it wasn’t – Kaoru Mori later resumed the series). There were also two other short stories at the end, focusing on different characters.
Overall Thoughts: I really liked it. While unfinished, Shirley’s story was cute and pleasant to read, and the one-shots at the end were good too (‘Mary Banks’ in particular really made me laugh). Recommended, but unfortunately it’s a little on the expensive side.
Status: 1 of 1 volume read.
Why I picked it up: I’m on a mission to collect all of CLAMP’s English-translated works, and as usual I’ve started with the more obscure ones first. The likes of Rayearth and Cardcaptor Sakura aren’t going anywhere, but when something like this comes up for sale at a bargain price, I have to act fast.
Presentation: If my Caravan Kidd volumes are the biggest in my collection, The One I Love is by far the smallest, and is about a third of the width of most other Tokyopop volumes! Again, pretty artwork on the front cover, but that’s to be expected from CLAMP.
Content: This was very different to your average manga! It’s a collection of twelve short romance stories (and when I say short, I mean short – each is just seven pages long!), all exploring a different theme, such as long-distance relationships or insecurity. These stories are also accompanied by two page ‘essays’ by CLAMP’s own Nanase Ohkawa, explaining where the inspiration for the short stories came from.
Overall Thoughts: This won’t appeal to everyone, as the stories are far too short for any depth or emotion, which are pretty important when it comes to romance! Still, the twelve different themes it touches upon made each story different, and some really got me thinking. And of course, the art was superb.