Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Spreading The Manga Virus

I'm not entirely sure what prompted the thought last night, but The Wife mentioned during dinner that she should probably try reading up on some manga because she'd noticed that more and more of her students were talking about it and she probably ought to at least have a vague notion of what they're talking about. (She's actually on break at the moment, so I'm not sure why she brought it up now, as opposed to, say, two weeks ago.) I told her that "manga" is just the Japanese word for "comics" and that there's a huge range of material out there. I've got a few titles that she'd be welcome to read.

"But you've got just superhero crap, right?"

(She generally tries to ignore my buying habits.)

I gave her a really high overview of a few of the titles I had handy, and she said a few of them actually sounded kind of interesting. Later that evening, I pulled out the first volumes of Alice 19th, Bizenghast, Blank, Chrono Crusade, iD_eNTITY, Lone Wolf and Cub and Steam Detectives. Of course, strictly speaking, about half of those aren't "real" manga. Two are OEL, one is manhwa, and one is gekiga. But they're all shelved in bookstores under the collective heading of "manga" and I suspect The Wife's students wouldn't know/recognize/understand the difference.

My guess is that iD_eNTITY will be the only one she likes of the lot. And I'd bet that, if she likes that, I could sell her on Ph.D. Phantasy Degree pretty easily since it's the same author. (Although I haven't actually read the latter one myself.) And I'll bet that we'll spend an evening in Barnes & Noble in the next week or two with her just reading the covers of everything in their manga selection so she can pick out a few titles that sound interesting. And then, she's going to get frustrated because she'll only find one or two series, read through them in a fairly short period of time, and then have to sit and wait a few months for the next volume to be published.

But we'll see how things go.

4 comments:

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

I looking to check out more manga myself, and Bizenghast and Lone Wolf and Cub have both piqued my interest in the past. Having some vague idea of what I like to read, which of the titles you selected for The Wife would you recommend I check out?

Sean Kleefeld said...

Well, Lone Wolf is a brilliant series; I'd recommend that to just about anyone. Can't go wrong there. There's really nothing to say besides, "This should be on every comic fan's shelf."

I reviewed the first volume of Bizenghast here and the second volume holds up equally well. My understanding is that writer/artist LeGrow has this planned as only a three-volume story, so it certainly wouldn't require the financial investment of, say, Naruto. Volume three is scheduled for a July release, I believe. It would probably be my third recommendation of the VERY limited amount of manga I've read.

I also reviewed Blank, Steam Detectives and Alice 19th earlier, but the bottom line is that I wouldn't really recommend them. I had the same reaction with Chrono Crusade. Nothing wrong with them per se, but they just didn't click for me. Guy, you might like Chrono Crusade -- I could see that one going either way just as easily. Worth a flip-through at the store perhaps, if nothing else.

iD_eNTITY is something I'd bet you like. I've reviewed it twice already, and the several volumes I've read since then have continued along with the same level of quality. I've been really enjoying this series, and was actually somewhat disappointed when I caught up to Tokyopop's publishing schedule, as I'm now stuck waiting months for the next volume. Definitely worth picking up at least the first volume, I think. Of my tops three recommendations, this one is probably the most typical in terms of what Americans think of as "manga" with large-eyed characters and chibis and such.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Gah! I meant to write these down before I went to Midtown this week and completely forgot! I wanted to flip through iD_eNTITY, Chrono Crusade, and Bizenghast but I couldn't remember any of them! Grrr...

Lone Wolf is a little bit intimidating, to be honest, so I want to get a couple of more volumes of other manga under my belt before jumping into it.

Thanks for the recs, though. I'll let you know what I pick up.

Sean Kleefeld said...

Been there way too many times! :)

No reason to be intimidated by Lone Wolf though. The storytelling is so phenomenal that you're just totally drawn into the stroy. Just read and enjoy the story for it's own sake.