Friday, July 3, 2015

A Tour of the Shelves & Manga Tag with Megan

It's a holiday weekend, and like so many people, I don't want to do any hard work.  So before I launch into this month's reviews I'm going to do something something special.  Before I get too far along, though, I should share what else I've been up to in the last few months.  Why, I've done everything from write revews on Black Rose Alice, Yukarism, and The Man of Tango to a review of the El Hazard franchise.  I've even done another podcast, this time talking with some of my fellow writers at Infinite Rainy Day about the dreadful series Vividred Operation.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to get a little personal by showing off my own manga for a change.  After all, I've been talking about it here for over three years, but what series do I actually read and collect?  You'll have to forgive the lighting and the photo quality - cell phone cameras can only do so much, and my manga shelves are in my somewhat dimly lit basement, making photography a tricky prospect.

What you see there is 62 separate series that I've gathered and gleaned in the five years I've been reading manga.  I'm rather proud of my collection, as there are more than a few in there that are very hard to get a hold of these days (and some of which had volumes that I paid rather dear prices for).  Even if all these books threaten to take over all the shelf space I have available, each and every volume makes me happy to own it.
I'm not just showing them off for the sake of bragging rights, though.  Thanks to YouTube anime reviewer  Professor Otaku, I discovered Manga Tag, a sort of chain-letter style challenge where video makers and bloggers answer the questions with examples from their own manga collections.  So I guess I'll take up his challenge and declare myself It by answering these questions.
1. What was your first manga?
Now the question doesn't specify whether this means the first manga I've ever read or the first manga I ever bought, so I'm including both here.  The first manga I ever read was Magic Knight Rayearth.  I had only been into anime for a short time when I got my hands on the first season of the series, and I was curious to check out the source material.  I got my hands on the first three books from the library and figured I could peruse them throughout the week.  I ended up devouring them in a single evening and picked up the second half the next day.  From that point I was hooked, and I have CLAMP to blame for that.  As for the first manga I ever bought, that would be Fruits Basket.  I had seen the show and liked it very much, and knowing that the manga covered so much more of the story, I was eager to check it out.  Luckily, I was already halfway through the series when Tokyopop shut down, so I didn't have too much trouble collecting the rest before it got too hard to find.
2.  What is your most expensive manga?
8.  What is your rarest manga?
I'm skipping ahead a little bit for this one because I can answer both of these with the same series: Challengers, a charming little shonen-ai series by Hinako Takanaga.  It was limited from the start, being not only a yaoi series but a yaoi series from the rather short-lived and obscure yaoi publisher DramaQueen, so you'll not find a lot of people who have the full run of this in English.  Weirdly enough, Volumes 2 - 4 are not all that hard to find and not all that expensive, but Volume 1 currently ranks as the most expensive volume of manga I own.  That book cost me $45, and the only reason I bought it then was that it was the first time I had seen it listed for under $60.
3.  What was your least expensive manga?
I tend to be rather thrifty when it comes to old manga and I've managed to get more than a few good deals by buying volumes used.  Still, nothing's more free than a gift from others, and I've gotten a few volumes as Christmas presents.  If I had to pick a representative from them, though, it would have to be that big, beautiful, hardbound Nausicaa collection Viz put out two years ago.  This was a gift from my fiancé's brother, and he had to reorder it almost at the last minute as the first copy he bought was dented, but I'm so very glad he did.
4.  What is the most boring manga you own?
This is a tricky question, as nobody honestly collects manga that they would themselves call 'boring'.  Still, if I had to determine what manga would be the most mundane, I would probably have to go with Fumi Yoshinaga's What Did You Eat Yesterday? I imagine a lot of younger manga readers would find this one weird, as it's all about adults doing their jobs, dealing with relationship stuff, and making lots and lots of food.  That's their loss then, because it's one of my favorites.
5.  What is your favorite manga series?
That one is easy to answer - xxxHolic, by CLAMP.  I've been a CLAMP fan since the beginning and have read just about every work of theirs that has been put out into English, but few have struck me in the same way that xxxHolic did.  Part of it the way it looks; Nekoi has yet to do better work than the sleek, elegant work she's done here.  I love it so much that I even hunted down the artbook, which was expensive but totally worth it.  Part of it is the somewhat spooky, somewhat mystical atmosphere that the whole series cultivates. Ultimately, though, it was the characters that kept me reading.  I love what they did with Watanuki as a character and in particular how they developed his relationships with Doumeki and Himawari, as well as the rather plot crucial one between him and Yuuko.  I'm even loving xxxHolic Rei, which is shaping up to finally bring the story full circle.  While I wouldn't call it CLAMP's absolute best work - that's what we have Cardcaptor Sakura for - but xxxHolic remains my favorite of theirs and my favorite of all time.
6. What is the most relatable manga series you own?
This is probably the trickiest question of them all to answer.  I tend to be drawn to the fantastical when it comes to manga, and as a grown woman there aren't a lot of manga out here that really speak to my own circumstances.  There are plenty that are sympathetic, but relatable is not quite so common.  That being said, I could settle on a few that seemed to fit best here.  Hiroyuki Azuma has always been able to capture everyday life in a way that's equal parts hilarious and endearing, so I had to include both Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba.  I also had to include Barakamon.  While the circumstances are very, very different, as a country girl myself I could relate to some of the people and ideas that the protagonist encounters in his country village home, and the kids in that series are some of the very few that actually talk and feel like real little kids.  Finally, there What Did You Eat Yesterday? again.  I'm a pretty avid cook, so that series' focus on recipes and prep reminds me the most of my own everyday struggles to get dinner on the table.
7. What is one manga you own that is based off an anime (not the other way around)?
This one was hard for me to answer simply because I don't own a lot of manga adaptations of TV shows, mostly because the vast majority of them suck on toast.  The closest thing I do have is the full run of the Revolutionary Girl Utena manga, and even then that's a bit of a cheat as that was released in Japan just before the show aired.  Still, it's meant to be Saito's own interpretation of the show as it was being produced, and while it's nowhere near as brilliant and insightful as the series was, it's still an interesting take on the story.
9.  What is the most reprinted manga you own?
That would have to go to Magic Knight Rayearth.  It was first serialized in Mixx, then it was collected in flipped volumes under that name, then it was republished unflipped under Tokyopop in both singles and as an omnibus, and now we have the omnibus releases from Dark Horse.  That's five, not counting the box sets they put out of the singles from Tokyopop as well.
10.  What is the most popular manga you own?
While there might be some competition from Fruits Basket or Cardcaptor Sakura, I feel pretty safe declaring that Fullmetal Alchemist is probably the most popular manga of anything I have on my shelves.
11.  What is the most damaged manga you own?
I tend to keep my books in pretty good shape and even when buying used, I try to go for ones in good shape.  The only exceptions are my first two volumes of Antique Bakery, which are a bit frayed at the edges and a bit damaged on the spines.  Amazingly, the scratch and sniff spot on my Volume 3 still smells fruity after all these years.
12.  Which manga has the most amazing art?
Yeah, I think anyone who has been reading this blog for any significant amount of time knew that my answer would have to be Kaoru Mori's A Bride's Story.  The sheer amount of detail and historical accuracy she puts onto each page blows me away with each volume, and then you add on top of that her skill for subtle movement and expression.  She truly is one of the best manga artists working today.
13.  What is the oldest published manga that you own?
Again, this doesn't specify whether this means the oldest when it comes to being published in Japan or when it comes to being published in North America.  Again, I've decided to cover my bases by answering both.  The first goes to Heart of Thomas, which dates all the way back to 1974.  The latter was a bit of a surprise, but my volumes of Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's Joan was put out by ComicsOne back in 2000.  I doubt I'll ever pick up anything much older unless I find some of those other Moto Hagio works that Viz put out in the mid 1990s.
14.  What is the newest published manga you own?
I'm actually keeping up with a lot more current releases than I used to even a year or two ago, but the most recent of the lot would probably have to be Maria the Virgin Witch.  I enjoyed what little bit of Moyashimon we got back in the day, and while this series is VERY different from that one, it's still fascinating in its own right.
15.  What are some of the most recent manga you have purchased?
Luckily, I just so happened to take a trip to the local Barnes & Noble last week to pick up a couple of volumes - the latest collection of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood and the latest volume of Drug and Drop.  It's interesting to see how Araki's art evolves and how the histrionic tone of the story works surprisingly well with the era it's set.  As for Drug and Drop, I'm glad that CLAMP are not wasting time and getting to the heart of this story at long last as well as crossing it over with a rather unexpected part of the CLAMP multiverse.
Of course, it's not Tag unless you can tag someone else as It.  As such, I'm going to throw this one out to anyone else who reads this blog, but I'm also going to specifically tag two people: Ash of Experiments in Manga and Twitter user bunycartoon of the Anime Nostalgia Podcast.  If you participate, make sure to let me know by linking it in the comments!


  1. I finally got around to playing! Thanks for tagging me; it was fun. :)

  2. Oh gosh! Someone just pointed this out to me that I'd been tagged..I didn't even realize! Maybe I can try to do this myself sometime soon if I can find the time. ^^; Apologies for not noticing sooner!