My first post on manga! I’m surprised by this myself, since I only discovered anime through a manga impulse buy, and have continued to collect it ever since. So why have I been posting in so much detail about my anime viewing, and hardly mentioning my manga reading? Maybe it’s because of my gender; but I can also think of another, simpler reason: the series I’ve been following haven’t changed much in the two years since I started my blog… until very recently.
About the only major influence on my manga buying patterns between 2010 and this year was Tokyopop going under, leaving me with a load of unfinished series. 😕 Elemental Gelade was a particularly hard loss, and a digital-only release won’t make my bookshelf look any less incomplete. 😦 But aside from those, I just continued with the same titles I had for years.
Then, a whole load of them finished at once. Those that weren’t finished, I found I was up to date with, forced to wait months for new volumes to be published. Time to start some new series, I thought, and while the series I went for are a very mixed bunch of older and newer titles of different genres, the fact I started them all within the space of a month makes it feel almost as though they’re a ‘new manga season’, like the upcoming spring anime season. That’s got to be worth posting about.
So here’s my early thoughts on the five series I started recently! In alphabetical order, not ranked, as I’m 3-4 volumes into some, but have only read the first volumes of others.
Status: 1 volume of 3 (ongoing) owned and read.
Why I picked it up: I watched and liked the anime Victorian Romance Emma, so first looked into getting the original manga. However, I decided to go with Mori Kaoru’s most recent work instead, because the Central Asian setting is something I’ve not seen much in manga, anime or elsewhere before. Also, can’t argue with an A-P rating in the top 50!
Presentation: My first hardback manga volume! I couldn’t believe it when I read that it was hardback in the description on Amazon, and I’d love to see more series get a similar release (though the price is a bit higher than your usual manga volume as a result!). Lovely bright dust-cover, choosing to go with a big colour picture over a blurb on the back, much more effective in my opinion.
Content: Well as I said, the setting is very different and intriguing – a slice of life near the Caspian Sea in the 19th Century, and did a good job of introducing the main characters Amir and her young husband Karluk, and their rather large family. Plenty of drama in the early chapters too, what with Karluk falling ill, and Amir’s family wanting her to leave him and remarry… The artwork was spectacular, really bringing the places and characters to life.
Overall Thoughts: Probably the best of the new series I’ve started. 🙂
Status: 1 volume of 2 (ongoing) owned and read.
Why I picked it up: I like CLAMP, and recently finished xxxHOLiC. Gate 7 looked and sounded as though it’d be a similar kind of series, which worked in its favour. Still, I was undecided between that and CLAMP’s other ongoing (in the west) series Kobato, as well as Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. Credit goes to Organization Anti-Social Geniuses, whose review of volume 2 convinced me that Gate 7 was exactly what I wanted.
Presentation: Not quite on the same level as Dark Horse’s CLAMP omnibus releases… the cover art was lovely of course, but there’s little else making it stand out from other series on my shelves. I like the fact that there are full pages of art inserted on the first and last pages of the book though – makes a nice change from the contents, publisher information or “You’re going the wrong way!” messages being the first thing you see when you open it. 🙂
Content: Well as warned by Organisation ASG, this is a pretty complex series to get into for someone with limited/no knowledge of the history and mythology referred to throughout – those four pages of translation notes came in handy! Too early to tell whether the plot will be anything special, but the characters were intriguing if nothing else.
Overall Thoughts: It caught my interest early on and held it until the end of the volume; surely that’s all it needs to do.
Status: 2.5 volumes of 9 (complete) read; whole series owned.
Why I picked it up: I took a day trip to Shrewsbury with a friend, and met up with other friends there who gave us a guided tour of the places in town that sold anime and manga. There weren’t many, but one happened to have 8 volumes of Gunsmith Cats. First editions. I bought the lot, after a little convincing from one of my friends, along with the seller’s assurance that I could get the missing volume cheaply online. Which I did, as soon as I got home.
Presentation: These date back to a time when manga was commonly flipped to read like Western comics – something which hasn’t resulted in any obvious errors so far, though I’ve heard tales of other series where text on things like T-shirts and signs were left in their reversed, mirror image state. 😛 This reversal has some novelty value, and doesn’t feel out of place in a series set in the USA. Aside from that, nice bright covers (if a little ecchi to display side on) make them look GOOD.
Content: While large parts of it are blatant car and gun porn (neither of which are things I know a lot about), and other parts are bordering on actual porn (Minnie May is TOTALLY 18), it’s hard not to like a series as action packed as Gunsmith Cats. Bounty hunting, gunfights, car chases, explosions… this series has so much going for it. Love the characters too, and the early 90’s style art – something absent from my pretty modern manga collection until now.
Overall Thoughts: Worth every penny.
Status: 3 volumes of 35 (complete) read; 28 owned, though not in order (missing volumes 6-12). 5 dispatched from Amazon earlier last week.
Why I picked it up: It’s long, it’s shounen; Rave Master is everything I don’t normally collect. Especially out of order, given my OCD. Some of those middle volumes are pretty expensive, having been out of print for nearly a decade. So why HAVE I picked it up? Well, I was given volumes 13+, well over half the series, for free. With that in mind, paying a little extra for some volumes doesn’t seem a bad deal at all.
Presentation: Well, the volumes I was given for free weren’t in bad condition… but they’re hardly new either. Coupled with the high price of buying the missing volumes new/like new, I decided that presentation wouldn’t be my main concern with Rave Master – if it’s readable, it’ll suffice. 😛 I’ve been buying ex-library copies as a result, and none of the four that have arrived so far have been bad. If they WERE new… well, Tokyopop titles don’t vary much in outer appearance, do they?
Content: Rave Master feels very mainstream – the hero is overpowered, the bad guys are bad for no reason that has yet been explained, and the plotlines so far have mostly revolved around fights and weapon upgrades. However, it makes for fun, light reading, and has left me laughing out loud on many occasions. Haru’s reactions to the weird things going on in the world around him, and pretty much everything Plue does, are the main causes of most of this laughter.
Overall Thoughts: Glad I was given this, as like I say it’s not something I’d likely have started on my own, but I am enjoying it. 😀
Status: 2 volume of 4 (complete) owned and read.
Why I picked it up: More CLAMP! Wish is the first of hopefully a large number of short, complete & out of print series that I aim to pick up over the next year or two – while they’re still out there, and still cheap. It’s also a series I considered getting time and time again when I was new to manga, only to eventually buy something else instead. About time I added it to my collection.
Presentation: “Well, Tokyopop titles don’t vary much in outer appearance, do they?” – apart from volume 1 of Wish, which is apparently a ‘collector’s edition!’ It comes with a dust cover (not hardback though, sadly), and a few colour pages, making it easily the best looking Tokyopop volume I have. Inside though, it has a few typos, just to restore some balance. 😛 Sadly, my copy of volume 2 isn’t special edition.
Content: Wish is CUTE. Very cute. The artwork is cute, Kohaku is cute, the random chicks that float around making encouraging/sarcastic comments are cute. Plot-wise, nothing revolutionary at this midway point, but the idea of forbidden love between Angels and Demons (potentially Angels and Humans, too?) is thought provoking. Also, did I mention it was cute?
Overall Thoughts: Different in style, feel and plot to Gate 7 and to other CLAMP works I’ve read, but no less awesome. And a whole lot cuter.
Well this turned into quite the essay, longer than my previous Mirai Nikki post at least! I’d like to keep writing about manga in the future, but as I buy volumes as and when they come out and I have money, as opposed to on a reliable weekly schedule as with anime, I can’t see it becoming that regular.