Book Haul… whoo

A colleague of mine discovered that there was a big book sale being held just a few minute drive from our office, so we decided to venture over after work one day this week. It was one of those big “library sale” type charity sales with tons of tables, thousands of books, and just about as many readers looking for a deal. Unfortunately I wasn’t savvy enough to remember to take pictures or video of the experience. But, I should at least be able to show you the spoils!

I went, of course, in hopes that I’d find some manga. I didn’t. That was disappointing. But, I did find 1 graphic novel:

“The Sculptor” by Scott McCleod. I hate to say that the only graphic novel I’ve read by this creator is still his non-fiction title about comic books and graphic novels “Understanding Comics”. I’ve been wanting to read anything else of his since… and that was probably over a decade ago. This is one I’ve heard great things about, and it was in perfect condition. Plus, I only paid about $2 for it which, frankly, is a steal! I couldn’t pass it up!

20190502_191741b

I’m participating in a graphic novel readathon, called PanelAThon, at the end of the month which this is a good candidate for. Although, now that I think about it… I might also have about 50 holds at the library for other graphic novels I’m currently interested in reading…

Did I mention that I’m in the mood to read right now?? This is a phenomena I haven’t experienced in a few years. I really don’t feel like doing anything else. I just want to read. I want to read everything. And, I want to read it all right now. I think this is the form that my mid-life crisis is going to be taking… I guess it could be worse!

I did get a handful of Japanese art and language books as well. They aren’t the most current books (At least the art books aren’t), but they are actually all really intriguing… at least, if you’re an art nerd like me.

I broke up a nice looking “Art of the World” series that had several books focusing on different cultures for this one on Japan. There’s quite a lot of colour plates in this book, and there seems to actually be a decent amount of text, so I’m hopeful to learn something new.

20190502_191748

“Japanese Art” and “Oriental Lacquer” both feature a lot of full colour plates, which is very gratifying. There’s a lot less text in the Lacquer book, and it focuses more generally on East Asia, particularly Chinese lacquer. I think if neither have enough good information in them, they’ll still be pretty nice to cut up and use in paper crafts…

The Japanese language book “Jazz Up Your Japanese with Onomatopoeia” by Hiroki Fukuda is actually a book I’ve been wanting to own, but I believe the last time I looked on amazon, it was out of print. This particular series of Kodansha language books are my absolute favourite English-to-Japanese language resources.

Lastly, I bought three, kind of, wild cards: “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. I have read MOST of “East of Eden” and have been hoping to read more by this author. Actually, I had no idea that this book was as long as it is. It, like “The Sculptor” is in perfect condition. It doesn’t look like it’s been read, and it hasn’t yellowed at all, so I figured it would do alright on my shelves.

20190502_191743b

“The Cosy Tea Shop in the Castle” by Caroline Roberts is probably the most outside my wheelhouse in this haul. I just wanted something random, and silly… and the plot of this sounds like just that. A girl opens a tea shop in a castle which has a very grumpy owner/Lord… who she will sweeten up by the charm of her cupcakes (not a euphemism). Haha. I can’t even. It sounds so corny. I love it. I expect I’ll give it a quick read before it gets a new home.

The last is the most unique title “What We  See When We Read” by Peter Mendelsund. It is a mix of text and illustrations, and appears to be an examination of the reading experience. How do people read? What influences their experience reading? Why does someone see different things in books? If it’s as good as I hope, then it will be a fascinating experience. Sometimes these more “philosophical” examinations of experience are just a bunch of gibberish. I’m crossing my fingers for this one!

So, that’s it. It only cost me about $25 (Canadian), which is fantastic! Especially considering that May is often my most expensive month.

I’m actually expecting to go to another similar sale next week and am expecting many more comics. I’ve also got an order in at Book Outlet for more books…not manga.

20190502_191756b

I’m excited about all this new reading I’m going to be doing.

So, of course I can’t end this without a little question:

What is the last book (not manga) that you bought and are really excited to read?

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I’m Back!

I used to be better at blogging, but now that I also make YouTube videos, I’m having a hard time managing my time between the two.

So, I’m back. I plan to be back anyways. Content is going to be a bit short and sweet for a while, as I get back into the rhythm of posting. But, expect to see more posts here going forward…

Manga & Books Haul : End of December

I got books!

Not only did I get tons of books for Christmas (because my family knows what I like), I also bought quite a few unique titles at the end of 2018. Knowing how small my budget was going to be this year, and also getting a head start on my “1001 Comics Collecting Project“, I did decide to pick up some last minute titles before the year began. I don’t think I’ve been so excited about so many books in my hauls before:

  • Battle Royale / by Koushun Takami
  • Citizen 13660 / by Mine Okubo
  • Comics Versus Art / by Bart Beaty
  • Convenience Store Woman / by Sayaka Murata
  • Doing Time / by Kazuichi Hanawa
  • Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga / by Koji Aihara and Kentaro Takekuma
  • Fashion Forecasts / by Yumi Sakugawa
  • A History of Japanese Art: From Prehistory to the Taisho Period / by Noritake Tsuda
  • Megane Collection: The Bespectacled Gentlemen Collection, vol. 1-5 / by Shin Kawamaru
  • Megane Sensei + Kiss / by Shin Kawamaru
  • Nothing Whatsoever All Out in the Open / by Akiyo Kondo
  • RG Veda, volume 3 / by CLAMP
  • The Butler is King / by Nana Shiiba
  • The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde / illustrated by Yuko Shimizu
  • The Guest Cat / by Takashi Hiraide
  • The Rig Veda / translated by Wendy Doniger
  • The Tale of Genji / by Murasaki Shikibu
  • VÉRITÉ / by various
  • Yokai Stories / by Zack Davisson and Eleanora D’Onofrio
  • バレエ・リュス / by 桜沢エリカ [Barei Ryusu / by Sakurazawa Erica]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 Manga Reading & Collecting Project

In my goals I mentioned one of the ways I was going to construct my TBR over the year – and part of that was to include at least 1 book mentioned in the “1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die” book, edited by Paul Gravett.

1001 comicsNow, this book encompasses a lot more comics than it does manga, but it goes much further than your standard list of “comics to read” list by including over 150 books by Japanese authors (not all manga). Most of which are or have been available in English.

At the base level of my goals, the plan for this year is to read at least one book mentioned in it every month. But more than that, I want to be actively collecting and reading what I can until I reach the end of my project, even beyond 2019.

To pick what I will read over the year, I am using a TBR jar. Hopefully this will help me focus on the titles specifically for this project. I’m not only reading manga from this book, but it is certainly going to be front and center.

Picking what I buy will be a bit more difficult. I’ve already placed a rather embarrassing order through a number of online second hand vendors… partly because I knew my budget for this year was going to be quite a bit tighter. Going forward into 2019, I’m going to have to be more strategic in how and when I pick up the remaining titles. But, at least at this point I have a large collection to work from!

I do have a longish video up on YouTube about this project where I list:

  • All of the books I own completely, and have read
  • All of the books I own completely, and have started reading
  • All of the series I don’t own completely, but can begin reading some of
  • And, All of the series I don’t own completely, but can’t read any until I buy more

For some reason that just worked to divide the titles up that way! I didn’t include a list of titles that exist in English, but I have not collected yet.

If you want a complete list of the titles, I’d recommend picking the book up for yourself, or checking out Paul Gravett’s website: (http://www.paulgravett.com/1001_comics/index/). He provides a list, but you only get the text descriptions in the book.

I’m looking forward to a very good year of reading!

 

Manga Reading Plans for 2019

Another new year has begun, and another year to neglect this blog!! ^ ^

But, seriously.

I am hoping to make a little more content over here, and I have a few plans to do that over the course of the year. I like to make myself a ton of New Year’s goals, because I know that the more goals I have, the more likely I’ll accomplish one of them. Let’s hope that “posting more regularly on my blog” is one of them.

In addition to that, I have a few goals which may affect what I post on this blog, so let’s look at them:

ONE. READ 500 VOLUMES

I’ve set my GoodReads goal to 500 books, but I’m actually expecting to read more than that. I’m not counting prose nor comics in this total, but I am expecting to read some. I want this 500 books goal to be comprised entirely of manga. I’ve had a bit of a slow start already, but am anticipating more free time to read this year. Last year I read about 420 manga. This year will be a bit of a stretch, but I’ve done it in the past, and I know I can do it again.

TWO. PICK A MONTHLY TBR

I’ve got a bunch of reading plans which require me to do a little bit of more structured reading. I can, of course, still pick what I want to read but, every month I am going to create a TBR (to be read) pile that I’d like to accomplish.

The categories I’ll be using to construct this TBR every month are:

  1. At least 1 title from the “1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die” book
  2. At least 4 titles from my #readmanga19 challenge. This includes a combination of prompts and reading books that start with certain letters of the alphabet. (you can find a description of this challenge in the drop-down menu above)
  3. At least 1 title from “the Closet” (this is where we store all of our BL/yaoi/yuri and box set manga… I don’t pay enough attention to this part of the collection).
  4. At least 1 title from the “Oversize Shelf” (this is where most of our gekiga and alternative manga live. Again it is fairly ignored).
  5. At least 1 title from my single issues collection
  6. And, Only 1 title from my list of OOP (out of print) releases that I finally finished collecting last year.

The point in making a TBR is partly so that I pick up a variety of different things, but it’s also to give me a focus to talk about. I’m turning some of these categories, like the #readmanga19, into video series on YouTube, but I’m hoping to talk about all of my TBR related reading both here and on my channel.

THREE. REDUCE MY MANGA SPENDING!

This may or may not affect what you see on this blog. I’m still going to be spending a lot of money on manga, but my budget is, in effect, being cut in half for the next year. I’m saving for a few personal projects, and also repaying some debt accrued from taking classes.

I’ve actually decided to take a break from university (and any other payed-for classes) for the next year, to help me pay off the debt from frequently taking classes. This is a VERY new thing for me: I don’t think I’ve ever been out of school for more than a couple months at a time in over 35 years! Ack!

What will I do with all this free time?!

I’m assuming the answer is “read” and maybe even “blog”. So, I have a little less money to play with, but I have a lot more free time. That in itself should make a huge difference for this hobby…probably.

I, of course, have a bunch of other goals for the year, but these are the three big ones that will affect this space.

Even though it feels a bit late to say:

I hope everyone has a kind, peaceful, and joyous 2019!

And, a fantastic year of discovering new manga!

Happy New Year!!

Quick Thoughts On: A Proper Wife by Chikae Ide

A Proper WifeA Proper Wife by Chikae Ide

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I loved Chikae Ide’s artwork. There were so many large splash pages that are just begging to be coloured… even though this is obviously not a colouring book. Everything is so crisp and clear! Plus, I am so pleased with the constant barrage of flowery backdrops!

As for the plot, it was short, and very undeveloped compared to most other shoujo/josei manga I’ve read. But compared to other Harlequin manga, it has one of the stronger stories. It was light, fast-paced and completely ridiculous. I had a lot of fun reading it!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a digital copy for review.

*Originally posted on GoodReads

Quick Thoughts On: A Girl Called Echo, volume 2 by Katherena Vermette

Red River Resistance

Red River Resistance by Katherena Vermette

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This title is an absolute must for any school library or public library in Canada. With the 150th anniversary of the Red River resistance occurring in 2019, and the major focus of the Canadian government on reconciliation, this comic couldn’t have come at a better time. I am so pleased to be finding so many new comics and graphic novels by indigenous creators, and the fact that is title focuses on Métis history is fantastic!

This title is the second in a series about a young Métis girl, Echo, who finds herself in some sort of foster care. While there she is attending high school and “experiencing” the history of the past, most notably the events surrounding the controversial and tumultuous Red River resistance.

I did read the first volume of this series, and I was very excited about this next installment. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I think my main problem is that this seems to be focusing on telling the story of the Red River resistance very quickly, but in doing so, it has forgotten to develop the characters. It also takes for granted that you have some background in this history.

Sadly, this means that the characters are little more than shells. Even the main character, Echo has less than a personality. I feel like she was beginning to be explored in the first volume, but her personality just fell flat in this one. There is so much more that could be done with this story without exaggerating or undermining the important history that is being explored. I wanted so much more!

Because of this, I feel like it’ll lose some of its audience. This comes off more as an educational work, and less as something to pick up for pleasure. However, as an educational work it is invaluable, and would do very well to be included as supplemental material in Canadian elementary and high school classrooms.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a digital copy for review.



View all my GoodReads reviews

24 Hour Manga Readathon : Tezuka’s 90th Birthday Edition | #24HRTezuka

Surprise! We decided to host a quick 24-hour readathon on what would be Osamu Tezuka’s 90th birthday (affectionately known as the “godfather of manga”).  Join us on Saturday, November 3rd to read as much manga as you can in the span of 24-hours!

We encourage anyone to participate. The only goal of this readathon is to read manga sometime during the day. We know not everyone will be able to read for the full 24-hours with us, but we hope that if you have a few hours to spend during the day, you’ll spend that time reading manga (and hanging out with us on social media, of course).

*We’ve invited Shae from YouTube/Instagram to help us plan and host this readathon. Please go and follower her on YT and Instagram. Thanks so much for joining us Shae!

Watch the host’s videos on YouTube for all of the details:


Please note: we do not support the reading of scans/scanlations/illegal or fan translations. Please help us support the industry by ONLY reading legally licensed/published/distributed manga for this readathon. Thank you. 


READING CHALLENGES:

The reading challenges are completely optional, they are just here to help you pick books to read if you don’t already have an idea. But also, we think they’re fun to try and complete. These challenges were inspired by some of Osamu Tezuka’s most famous manga. And of course, you could always try reading some books by Osamu Tezuka as well.

  1. Astroboy: Read a manga feature robots or machines
  2. Kimba the White Lion: Read a manga featuring animals, or nature
  3. Buddha: Read a historical manga, or a manga with religious themes
  4. Princess Knight: Read a romance, or adventure manga
  5. Phoenix: Read a short story, or manga featuring reincarnation/past lives
  6. Black Jack: Read a suspense manga, or a manga with medical themes

Watch Laura’s & Shae’s YouTube for reading recommendations!

 


SCHEDULE:

Date: November 3 (10:00AM MST) -November 4, 2018 (9:59AM MST)

Start Time: 10:00AM MST (Everyone starts at the same time. Find out what the start time is in your timezone, using the Time Zone Converter.

Follow us on Twitter: @MangaReadathon

 


The Manga Readathon was created by sisters (Laura) MangaHoarder and (Jennifer) Shelf Space Fleeting to inspire a love for all things manga.

 

I Was On The Radio! (talking about manga)

So, my sister and I have been fans of anime and manga for over 20 years now. And because of our loooong history being fans, we’ve had strange opportunities to “nerd-out” in public!

Our first chance was when we visited Japan in 2009. We went on a tour for fans, and our tour was subsequently interviewed by a local English-language newspaper. We were sadly misquoted in the piece, but it was still pretty exciting at the time to see the online engagement by Japanese fans with our words. Particularly my sisters’s (at the time) obsession with MatsuJun.

A few years later, we were asked to be interviewed by a photographer for a local magazine. She had been commissioned to do a photo essay about collector’s in the city. My name was passed along by a colleague who is very involved in the local art-scene. So a few weeks later, we were interviewed, and a large portrait of ourselves in front of our collection appeared in this magazine. I heard that this year the magazine has now ceased. But still, it was a cool (albeit an embarrassing) experience.

Because of that photo essay we’ve been contacted a few times for different opportunities, all of which were turned down. But, the latest phone call was from a local radio show “CBC : The Homestretch” requesting an interview. This was for a program series they were doing about ‘passionate hobbyists’, so they have a wider berth than just “collectors”.

We agreed to the interview. A few weeks later we had a knock on the door, and our interviewer came in with her microphone on and ready. And a few more weeks after a surprisingly awkward and unprepared interview, that left us both feeling emotionally anxious, we were on the radio.

Because the interview was quite awkward (on our end), I was especially nervous to listen to the program. I couldn’t do it live. I waited a day and listened to the broadcast online. It’s not bad. But there are some things about it that aren’t awesome which I need to address, before I share it with you…

  1. The in Japanese introduction is unfortunate (I’m not sure I’m confident this was written by a Japanese speaker). Do you really say, “aishimasu” toward inanimate objects? I would say “manga ga suki desu”. Not “watashi wa manga o aishimasu”. So that sounded weird to me… and the off-the-cuff remark “That’s Japanese for, ‘I love manga,’ or close enough”. Ummm…. No. There’s no “close enough” about it. Granted, he probably didn’t know what he was saying and was actually just remarking on his pronunciation. But, still… it comes off as an excuse for not doing your homework. Almost as bad as saying, “Ai rabu manga” in a Japanese accent and calling it “close enough” …urk.
  2. The Japanese koto/shamisen playing over our discussion of why we like manga was sooooooooo wrong! Why! Why did that have to play? Yes, we were talking about how much we like Japan, but we aren’t Japanese. It came off (to me) as orientalism. Which I… no…just no!
  3. The way the interview was cut is very good. Some of the worst parts of the interview that I was dreading to hear were removed. But, some context may have inadvertently been removed as well, which makes me sound like I approve of reading scans.  I state that we started buying manga because the only way to read manga at the time was to buy it. But, that was more a comment on (at the time) small library collections, and just the lack of availability of titles in regular book stores… not scans. So, no, I still do not approve of scanslations or scans reading. Please don’t take that message away from this.

Okay, so now that I’ve prepared you for the worst… it’s actually really not that bad. I may be reading more into it than I should (because that’s what I do). And, I certainly don’t think any mistake made was malicious in any way.

Plus, I had fun doing it. It was a good experience. And, I’d probably do it again.

So, here we are! Click the radio to listen, if you’re interested!

radio

 

Review/Rant: 100 Manga Artists by Amano Masanao

100 Manga Artists.jpg100 Manga Artists / by Amano Masanao ; edited by Julius Wiedemann.

Köln : Taschen GmbH, [2017] ©2017

9783836526470

Original edition published as: Manga Design. Amano, Masanao. Köln : Taschen, c2004.

 

Before you get too far into this review, know that this is effectively the WORST book I’ve read on anime/manga… and I’ve read my fair share! It’s poorly written (I hope the parallel French and German text were better), is inconsistently formatted, provides no useful information, and is an unbalanced and creepy curation that leans heavily toward the over-sexualized.

I was fooled. I was fooled by photographs of a kindly online recommendation. I was fooled by the cover design/title (which I’ll get to later). I was fooled by the publisher whose works I usually appreciate (At least as coffee table books). And, I was fooled by the $10 price tag. I should have known better.

So before I get too far into rant mode, I should probably describe the book. This is a relatively small-trim sized 5.7 x 7.9 inches and chunky 672 pages hardcover book. As far as coffee table books go, it is appealing: a fun size crammed with black and white manga illustrations. Inside, each artist is introduced in a short paragraph with parallel text in English (first), followed by French and German, and 3 to 6 full page examples of that artist’s manga on thick glossy pages.

The actual publishing quality of the book is good, but the content leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Design:

I was originally hesitating to pick this up because of the hideous cover design, and also I’m not usually very interested in these types of encyclopedic surveys of anime and manga. I know because I read them. But, a little push from an online recommendation, and the $10 price tag were enough to reel me in. I’m always weak-willed to any books about manga.

The title “100 Manga Artists” sounds like it will be an encyclopedic work (which it is), featuring 100 different manga artists (which it does) and talking about those artists and/or why they are important (which it doesn’t). There are 100 manga artists named, and their work shown, but there is little to information about the artists themselves or why they were even included in this book. The text was merely there to briefly describe the plot of one or two of that artists’ more notable manga (notable, according to the author).

manga designThis lack of biographical information had me questioning the title. Why was it called 100 Manga Artists? I quickly realized that this had everything to do with marketing, and nothing to do with content. This is actually a “revised” edition of a previous book published by Taschen. That book was called “Manga Design”. Though, I would also take issue with that title, it is definitely more appropriate to the content of this book than “100 Manga Artists”. The Artists aren’t given any importance in this book. It is not at all about Manga Artists.

Book titles are changed for one reason – to make money. You most often see book titles change when there is a movie to tie-in (for example “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” was recently re-published under it’s movie name, “Love, Simon”). It also happens a lot when books are published in different countries (for example “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone”. There are a few other reasons, but these are the easiest examples to think of.

There was no reason to change the title of the book “Manga Design” except that the author or publisher wanted to make money. Best way to do that, especially if people have already read the first edition and realize they don’t need another copy, is to change the name and fool the idiots (i.e. me) who didn’t do their homework before picking it up.

This appears to be a quality published book, by a publisher who often puts out respected coffee-table style art history books. I have always trusted them to produce beautiful, well written books for the layperson. But, the quality of the content of this book is so poor, and the fact that they had to change the title of the book for no visible reason except to trick potential patrons, seriously damages my trust in this company.

 

Writing:

The first sentence of the introduction had me immediately excited, “Manga are Japanese comics created for Japanese readers.” Oddly enough, the term manga is rarely defined in these type of books as anything more than Japanese comics. Even academia seems to forget this important sentence when they are writing about manga for academic journals and other research papers. So, when I read this statement I was anticipating great things! Not only is it rare to get a definition about manga in writings on manga, but it is doubly rare for me to agree with said definition. This author has caught the most important defining aspect of what manga is in their first sentence, “for Japanese readers.” I’ve never read anyone write that before… except me. Unfortunately this wave of brilliance soon departed. The rest of the writing in this book, which I will say is fairly lean, is not brilliant. It is poor. And, I found myself having to read passages aloud to my sister (who was baking pies in the kitchen at the time) in exasperation.

The most hair-pulling example of this writing comes from the paragraph introducing Jiro Taniguchi (page 540).

Jiro Taniguchi is a talented artist who is always breaking new ground with different kinds of images for every new story or theme he pursues. He thoroughly researches each of his stories. When he was first starting out, he created interesting hard-boiled action pieces. He then experimented with a variety of themes. […]

ARE YOU KIDDING?!! A grade-schooler could construct better sentences than this! Forget that Jiro Taniguchi “researches each of his stories”, this makes me wonder whether this author researched for their book at all!

Now, not all of the blame can lie on the original author. This was originally written in Japanese (as far as I can tell), so the translator also gets to share in the brunt of my annoyance.

“He thoroughly researches each of his stories.”

I’m assuming that the author meant that he does research before working on a story, or researches for each of his stories, but to say “he researches his stories” implies that he goes back after the story is written and collects any articles or papers that discuss them.

I could go on.

On top of the plethora of problems with this writing there is also no style. If they had to write each sentence in a passive voice, and start 90% of the sentences (this may be an exaggeration, I’m really frustrated and don’t feel like counting) with the word “He”, wouldn’t it have been a better option to just use bullet points to organize?

But then, what is there to put into bullet points? Try this experiment: ask yourself what concrete information you have learned when you read the short paragraph above.

Give up?

Let me give you a hint:

Jiro Taniguchi created more than one art thing.

That’s it! This statement may seem a bit facetious, but NOTHING else is stated in these sentences. The rest is supposition and posturing with none of the necessary details or explanation which give concrete meaning to the words.

This wouldn’t frustrate me so much, except that I feel like these words are a complete waste of space (and waste of my time). This block of text is 1/3 of the description used for Jiro Taniguchi. The remaining 2/3 of text is a quick list of some of his more famous titles and their topics (NOT their themes). And to top it off, of all of the works listed, not one of them includes what anyone would call a “hard-boiled action piece.”

So the writing is poor. The content is non-existent. And I still have another objection! [Can you hear my voice getting louder, because it is!] That problem is inconsistent formatting.

I haven’t mentioned yet, but in addition to the short paragraph to introduce the artist (or whatever it’s doing, I’m not really sure), there is a short list of facts for each artist (in English only). These facts can include: when and where they were born, their debut work, their best known works, anime adaptations of their works, and some prizes they’ve won.

But the use of these facts is inconsistent, and therefore untrustworthy. In the category for anime adaptations, for example, some artists who have known anime adaptations of their works have a short listing, but some don’t. This is also true of the awards listings.

The listings of “best known works” is what tipped me off to this issue in the first place. Back to the example of Jiro Taniguchi:

Best known works

“Unu o kau” [Owning a Dog]

“Kamigami no itadaki”

“Botchan no jidai”

Umm…

So, someone explain to me why the first title was translated into English, but the other two weren’t? Especially considering that the other two titles are BOTH published in English, this wouldn’t have been difficult to resolve.

And if we ignore that gross oversight, why weren’t these titles printed in Japanese with the plain phonetic pronunciation beside them, instead of the phonetic pronunciation alone? Why?! Why, I ask you?!

 

Curation:

The last thing I want to talk about is the creepy curation. I don’t understand why certain artists were included, and some artists weren’t. And, why certain manga illustrations were included instead of something else. After reading this book, I did go online and check other people’s reviews, and some of them stated that they liked the variety of artists discussed. So, this may be more subjective than my other arguments. But let me at least describe what I see:

Page 6: Flipping to the introduction, the illustration to the left comes from (I’m assuming by the art style) Mitsuru Adachi where a girl appears to be boxing (probably from the manga Katsu), falls over, and lands with her panties exposed while a bunch of men watch.

Page 25: Koji Aihara. The illustrations used directly beside the introduction is a 4-koma sequence that ends in a rambunctious theesome.

Page 31: Ken Akamatsu. The illustration used directly beside the introduction is from Negima. The little wizard boy performs some magic, and the girl in question’s clothes blow off.

Page 49: Moyocco Anno. The illustration used directly beside the introduction is from Flowers and Bees. If you can’t read Japanese or haven’t read the original story, this wouldn’t look like much. But, this is the moment that the two female hairdressers proposition the main boy and suggest that having sex with them will make him more appealing to women (right before they rape him).

Page 79: Kiyohiko Azuma. The illustration used directly beside the introduction is from Azumanga Daioh. Again, you’d need to know the series or Japanese to get it. But, this is a sports scene where Tomo tells Sakaki-san to step back because her boobs give her too much of a lead when they race.

 

In my opinion there is an over-use of unnecessarily sexual content. Mitsuru Adachi, and Kiyohiko Azuma are far from artists who I would think of when I would discuss fan service. Yes, I know, it’s a major part of shonen manga, blah blah blah… but… there are much better, and more memorable aspects to these stories that could have been included.

The placement of these images is also a bit creepy to me. The majority of the more “tantalizing” illustrations are on the first page to a section, next to the introductory paragraph where you’ll spend the most time. There are of course exceptions.

I’m not offended by sexual content. But I don’t like the subtle leaning towards the so-called “male-gaze” that I feel all over this curation. I feel too much of the author’s “interest” in manga in this curation and in his writing. As an encyclopedic work this should have been more neutral.

Some of the illustrations are appropriate as a representation of an artist’s work. In my opinion, both the illustrations for Ken Akamatsu and Moyocco Anno fit fairly well.

And there were a few surprises. Shintaro Kago, for example, doesn’t really have any example art in this book that I would consider overly-sexual. I can’t read the Japanese, so can’t be sure about the content. But, for someone known for his EroGuro (grotesque erotica), and who often sells as pornography, there is only one small image of a naked woman being pulled apart by school children using her legs as rope in a tug-of-war. But that’s it. And that very much is indicative of his art.

Gengoroh Tagame who is a notable gay-manga (bara) artist has some of his non-censored work included in this book. These types of scenes are fine to include as a representation of his work, but they also make me nervous. This book doesn’t have any external clues that it’s intended for adults only. The least that could have been done is a rating on the back, like any respectable English-language manga would get.

[Also, before you congratulate this book on its inclusivity, just note that Tagame was only included in this book because he’s recently gotten popular outside of the gay-manga genre. The same is true for the inclusion of Fumi Yoshinaga. There aren’t any strictly yaoi, yuri, or gay-manga artists in this book.]

 

Conclusion:

This reads like a self-published mess. But, the art is nice, and the price tag of $10 for about 500 pages of glossy art seems relatively reasonable as someone who likes to do paper crafts. I wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t meet my scissors in some mad crafting afternoon sometime.

 

Game:

Do you see what I see? Find the glaring omission. [hint: the original edition was published in 2004. This “revised” edition was published in 2017.]

obata scan update

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