Back when I was first introduced to the wide and wonderful world of shojo manga, I lived and breathed anything with romance, beautiful illustrations, and hunky shojo men that are the stuff of fantasy. Among my favorite manga series I’ve read and consider to be absolute classics now are Cardcaptor Sakura, Fushigi Yugi, Sailor Moon, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Hana Yori Dango. I used to consider myself to be on the cutting edge of shojo manga. I would know what the latest titles are and what’s soon to come to the U.S. These days, I find my manga reading more stuck in the past and finding myself more lost than I ever was before about what titles I should be adding to my reading collection.
Anyone who is an avid manga or graphics novel reader would know it’s quite expensive to collect all the volumes of your favorite series, as well as starting up a newer series once you have collected and read the previous one. I didn’t always have a fair amount of money on hand to collect every single volume of a finished series in one go. I gradually read and built my collection of a current series. It may have taken some time to get to the final conclusion of a series, but if it’s one I’m really interested in, I managed to pool all my money into getting the last few books left to have a complete set.
Time also eventually became a factor in a slower than usual collection and reading rate with manga. Being an adult who works full time and is balancing that out with having a life outside of geeky hobbies, it can be tricky to fit in time to read the series I’m currently collecting or looking into a new series to fall in love with.
Every time I check out the manga section at my local bookstore or follow publishers like Shojo Beat on Facebook and Twitter, I feel like a foreigner trying to make sense of all the newer titles that keep getting published in English. Certain cover art makes me more skeptical about wanting to know what the story is about, even before I’ve read the back of the book. A shojo guy looking sexy on the cover but has the girl in bondage? No thanks. Then there are the titles that look and sound like every other manga series I’ve already read. Once you get a rehash of the same old stories but with different characters and slightly different circumstances, then you might not be as excited to read them.
Hana Yori Dango is a much older series, but a long one to collect every single volume of Yoko Kamio’s wildly popular shojo series. The series may have long since concluded, but being able to buy and read each volume feels like reading something brand new every time. I also think there’s something about already knowing these characters beforehand through the anime that makes it easier to slide into the story like a snug glove every time I have a new volume in my possession.
Maybe my manga reading habits are a little old school too. Japanese manga back when I was in junior high to high school was a fairly new genre. Pickings were slim but the ones that did manage to make it over to the U.S. were gems, and with an illustration style that’s completely different from American comics. Now that manga has boomed in the U.S. market, it’s hard to separate the really must-read series from the ones that aren’t worth the money to pay for them.
The question worth asking is will I ever keep up with the latest manga titles that make our way to our local bookstores? Probably not. But if there’s a gem waiting to be found among the sea of titles clamoring for my attention, I’ll find it.
9 thoughts on “Out Of The Loop: How Keeping Up With Current Manga Titles Can Be Overwhelming”
Simpleek, one of these days , I’m going to post a pic of our manga collection. I’m buying Skip Beat…. I have quite a few collections of shoujo, but got burned by B.O.D.Y. The publisher stopped printing at Vol.10. The complete series is 15 volumes. I have 10 volumes. It’s unfair. Hey, you can ask me what titles are ood .
Ooops ! ” good “
I’m currently trying to finish up my older manga titles, but I will come to you when the time comes for recommendations! B.O.D.Y. was a series I was really interested in getting into, but if the series stopped printing abruptly, then I may reconsider buying that one.
It really is hard to keep up with all the popular manga series out there now. I have a mix of manga in my collection, ranging from manga from the 70’s to current, hot of the press manga. It’s nice having the mix, but I have to admit, it’s a little sad when I mention a really good older series and no one’s ever heard of it or read it. As you said, there are some real gems in the older manga, but I think some people dismiss them just because they’re old and maybe feel that those series are outdated.
Anyway, whether the series is old or new, I try to only buy manga that a), I’ve heard is excellent or strikes a cord with me and b), that I can’t get anywhere for free legally. To make sure I don’t drain my bank, I get as much manga as I can from my local public library. It also gives me access to series that are popular and enjoyable, but maybe not so great that I’d spend a small fortune collecting it.
Borrowing manga sounds like the way to go. I haven’t really swung by my local library in a while, so I really don’t know how good their manga selection will be. It’s a great alternative to actually committing to buy the series when you’re not even sure you’ll like it or not.
I definitely don’t reject an older series just because it’s not the “hottest” manga of the moment anymore. I also tend to think the older stuff did the stories much better than what I’m kind of seeing right now with the latest stuff.
I can certainly relate to not knowing which titles to read, especially when a popular series doesn’t interest me, or a series does sound interesting, but I have no idea if it’s good or not. Have you tried borrowing from the library? That’s how I’ve been reading manga lately – it’s a good way to read many series at a time without feeling burned if a series ends up not being your thing.
As I mentioned in the comment above, I haven’t tried checking out what my local library has to offer when it comes to manga but I’ll most likely do the same once I’m really ready to try out a newer series. I used to be more likely to buy a series on a whim based on the story and illustration style, hoping I won’t regret the purchase. Luckily, I can say I maybe regret one purchase out of all the ones I’ve made and that would be Hot Gimmick.
“Every time I check out the manga section at my local bookstore or follow publishers like Shojo Beat on Facebook and Twitter, I feel like a foreigner trying to make sense of all the newer titles that keep getting published in English.”
This is how I feel too! I browse the manga section every now and then when I go to a bookstore and I’m amazed at how many titles there are. I stopped buying manga a long time ago, but still read a few I get from the library or friends. I still have a couple old favorites I enjoy rereading and read scans/untranslated series. It’s wonderful that its become so popular in the US/canada (luckily for my budget, it came after I’d stopped reading manga for the most part).
Manga is an expensive hobby for sure, but any manga purchases I make these days are to continue the series I’m currently reading. Many of them are older titles that have long published all the volumes. It keeps me busy in that regard. Just trying to figure out what new titles I may want to try after I complete all my current collections will be quite a task to go through. Then again, I doubt I’ll be trying any newer series any time soon.