The Joy of OOP Manga

As I said in my New Year’s “resolution” post,  I’ve been enamored with reading manga from years ago that I missed when it came out. Last year I bought (or was given) and read a lot of now out-of-print manga. Luckily I’ve been able to keep up with that New  Year’s goal so far this year and out-of-print manga was a seriously significant chunk of the best material I read all year.

Here’s some of the OOP manga I’ve re-discovered, just for reference: Beck, Planetes, Princess Knight (the Kodansha bilingual version), Emma, Club 9, SOS, Nextworld, Walkin’ Butterfly, Eagle, Banana Fish, Two Flowers for the Dragon, Sugar Sugar Rune, The Queen’s Knight.

In my previous post about choosing a favorite manga, a lot of readers remarked that they couldn’t really love manga that they’d first read after the initial print run the same way as manga they picked out as it first came out in bookstores. Ironic, considering how manga often comes out in the United States and abroad much, much later than it’s Japanese print run. What does that mean for titles like Tezuka manga that embody a completely different zeitgeist that the time an English edition is produced?

But I’m getting off-topic here.

Reading manga that I missed the first time around has a different kind of thrill for me. There’s always a little bit of disappointment in knowing that the new (older) manga that you’ve just gotten into is out-of-print, but that’s definitely replaced by joy when you find the next volume you’re looking for and get to continue on with the series. There’s definitely the thrill of the chase before that, when I looking for hard-to-find gems, usually in someone’s ill-kept manga shelf or $5 bins under tables in a convention’s dealer’s hall. I’ve surprised more than a few people with the amount of manga I carry around after such a search, but it feels so good to get a volume of manga for close to cover price or lower when it’s going on eBay for over $100! Perhaps I just love a good deal.

Then there’s another aspect of older manga I love, discovering a lens into another time period. Club 9 is one such manga. It’s over the top in a lot of ways: curvaceous girls, thick accents, big spending and hostess clubs. It’s a manga that celebrates the ostentatious-ness of Japan’s bubble economy perfectly. Sure, it’s not the most flattering portrayal of women out there, but for all the bubbly, not bright personalities there’s a sweetness to the ladies and something of a sweetness from the men who pay to drink with them. In the end, it’s a manga that’s big, loud and enjoying itself just as much as its subjects do.

At the same time, some of the manga I’ve bought is much more contemporary. Sugar Sugar Rune is not that that old. Emma, although it’s set in Victorian-era England, is not that old either. But they’re technically out-of-print because their publishers are now non-existent. Actually, I picked up a lot of CMX titles right after their collapse, but I haven’t gotten to read quite a few of them because I couldn’t always get first volumes.

But truly, the joy is in discovering something you saw on the shelves a long time ago and never got the chance to read. Stuff like Beck, Planetes, Eagle and Banana Fish were all on the shelves during my beginning years as a manga fan, but I missed them because I didn’t realize they were awesome or because I didn’t have enough money at the time. It’s great to pick up a title that’s been staring you down on the shelves for a long time. It just makes you think: How did I miss this before?!

Have you fallen in love with out-of-print manga and which ones have you read so far?

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39 Responses to The Joy of OOP Manga

  1. Reika says:

    I adore all the OOP titles! Please Save My Earth is one title that my friends laugh at me when I tell them stories of how I scrounge through random comic shops looking for missing volumes in my collection.

    I’m doing that with Emma at the moment. I refuse to pay the crazy prices they’re charging at Amazon or eBay when I know there’s still some store out there somewhere that’s selling them for retail price.

  2. Dirk Deppey says:

    I’m genuinely depressed that Paradise Kiss, the series that opened my eyes to the power of manga, is now out of print.

  3. JRB says:

    There’s a ton of OOP CMX titles dear to my heart, most of which I acquired from my LCS, which opened a couple of years ago with an enthusiastic but utterly misguided manga section featuring a full set of CMX shoujo titles, most of which sat unbought until I came along and scooped them up; I got nearly-complete runs of Moon Child, Eroica and Swan from them, among others. My big online OOP buy of last year was a set of remaindered but mint-condition Tramps Like Us, which is the only josei romance in English with I unreservedly love. And I have hundreds of dollars worth of OOP BL manga; in particular, I’d like to thank Jason Thompson again for sending me Embracing Love during his manga giveaway rather than eBaying it for $$$$ like he should have.

    • Oooh! That’s pretty cool. My LCS sells some CMX titles in these weird packs. I’ve yet to pick one up, but I probably should… They also have a lot of OOP titles, but it can be a little hit & miss picking up the volumes you want. It seems like except for a few titles the employees like themselves, they don’t bother much with their manga selection. Which is a shame because my LCS down by my mom’s has such a great OOP selection & current selection.

      I’m glad I got Moon Child, Eroica and Swan (just managed to get Eroica this weekend!) when I could. Swan was a big favorite, so I always got the next volume ASAP!

      Tramps Like Us is so awesome! I’m glad you got a full set. :3

  4. Kris says:

    I don’t like OOP manga. It’s too hard to track down, and sometimes too expensive. Boo OOP manga!
    Was a pain to track down all 5 reasonably priced volumes of Paradise Kiss last year. Right now I’m trying to piece together a complete Fumi Yoshinaga collection, and I’m a little worried some of her early books will be hard to find once I’m able to get them.

  5. I’m working on 3 OOP series right now: Marmalade Boy, Kodocha and Gals!. I recently got the first 3 Gals! when a comic store near me was having a huge manga sale. Marmalade Boy and Kodocha I’ll find randomly at used book stores. I keep meaning to make a giant order on, too…

    I remember actually considering Kodocha when it was in print; I borrowed some from a friend’s sister, but she stopped collecting it because she figured out she could read the manga in the store -_-; Marmalade Boy I ignored, and now I curse myself for doing that.

    • Oh man, I have a few Marmalade Boy volumes, I think. Why didn’t I continue with that series?

      Best of luck to you! I hope you get to finish all of them. :3 I think my big thing right now is Basara. I’m missing volume 19, which is one of the most out of print, of course. It’s going for $100+ on eBay!!! ;_;

  6. Jason says:

    It looks like Urasawa’s Monster is going out of print (several volumes already appear to be OOP from looking at Amazon). I didn’t ‘discover’ Urasawa until 20th Century Boys was published here so I have been slowly picking up Monster and only have the first three volumes.

    Hopefully Viz decides to publish the series in some sort of omnibus like they did with Dragon Ball or I will be one of the people cursing that I didn’t buy something when it was in print.

  7. Pingback: New manga, old manga, vintage manga, overpriced manga? « MangaBlog

  8. Lexie C. says:

    Ahahaha yeah…I’m really glad that when Basara, Red River, From Far Away and a whole slew of others were originally coming out I had a well-paying job and could afford to buy them monthly. If they came out now I’d be dying. As is I’m trying to search out the volumes of X I’m missing, Fushigi Yugi, Murder Princess, Saint Tail and Card Captor Sakura.

    Though I was so excited! A couple months back I found the second volume to ‘Just a Girl’ and two volumes of New Vampire Miyu at the thrift store! I was like GIVE ME NOW!

    • That’s awesome! If you have an extra volume 19 of Basara, let me buy it off you! 😀

      Red River and From Far Away I collected sort of towards the tail end of their print run. It took me awhile to get me really invested in those series, but I’m super glad I did. ^_^

      A few weeks ago I found Banana Fish 1 and Flowers and Bees 1 for like half off cover price. It was excellent. :3

  9. LG says:

    OOP manga makes me so sad! I hate falling in love with manga I get from the library and then, when I later get the urge to try and buy the volumes so I can own them myself, learning that the volumes are monumentally expensive. Actually, I’m kind of afraid to look through the comments on this post – I’d rather not know if a series I love that I read via the library is now OOP. I start worrying that even the library copies will disappear or that they’ll all be horribly mutilated by people who just want a pretty little panel to tack up on their wall.

    • NO DON’T BE SAD! Don’t give up! Like I said to a previous commenter, you just have to start looking in the right places. Lots of comic book stores have old manga on their shelves because they gave up on bringing in new stock when the old didn’t sell, so scour your local stores! You may be surprised at what you can get for cover price. If you’re luck enough to have a Kinokuniya in your area, look through their stock too. They often have such a vast plethora of titles, the ones you’re looking for might be there. If you go to conventions, look, look, look! Lots of vendors will have discount boxes of old, poorly selling manga that they hope to get rid of by deeply discounting it. (The less they have to ship home, the better.) And if there’s a series that you KNOW you want, don’t buy it in order! Just grab any volume you see and hope you find the rest of them at another booth. And never EVER give up! EVERRRRR!

  10. bahamut says:

    I have a somewhat frustrating experience with Planetes, which I decided to get about two years ago. I loved the anime so I decided to read the manga, which I also loved. The only problem was the copy of vol.4 part 1 that I got had several pages missing (the first few pages of each chapter, to be exact). I thought it was an isolated incident so I exchanged it (on Amazon) and the same exact pages were missing. Then I checked different vendors on Amazon and asked if they could check those pages for me before I decided to buy it from them. Most of them were quite helpful and actually checked for me, but they all had the same problem. However, I do know that there are some complete copies out there because I asked around on a message board or two, and there were people with all the pages. I’m still trying to track down a good copy of that one volume :

    At Midtown Comics in NY, they always have gems that time forgot in their bargain section. I recently got several volumes of Lupin III for 3 bucks each. I love the look of it. It’s from the 70’s, but it doesn’t really look like other manga from the time period. It’s more of a loose doodly style, but it works. I also got the first and only volume (in English) of Twin Signal from Media Blasters (they’ve been out of the game for ages). It’s a real oddity. They brought over the omnibus (I forget the Japanese name for it), so it contains the first 2 or so volumes of it, but the height and width are about 50% smaller than a regular manga volume. It’s a silly early 90’s shonen manga. I LOVE that super 90’s art style and I wish more 90s shonen could be licensed (I’m still hoping for Violinist of Hameln). I was aware of both the Lupin and Twin Signal manga when they were being released, but I ignored them, and I wouldn’t have paid full price for them. But as bargain bin purchases, they’re fun little diversions that don’t really require a series long commitment. Good times.

    I have a rather long “to read” list, so I’m worried about when I finally decided to start series like Banana Fish if I’ll find all the volumes. So much manga, so little shelf space!

    • Awwww, that sucks! Thanks for telling me about it though, because I’m very very slowly catching up with Planetes myself.

      If I lived in NYC, I’d totally hit up Midtown, but that’s an expensive way to buy manga, you know?

      • bahamut says:

        Oh yea, Midtown always sells at full MSRP (as does Kinokuniya a few blocks away). I usually just browse, but sometimes I give in to temptation. Internet shopping is the way to go, though.

        Good luck with Planetes. It seems like there was one print run or something that had that problem. It wasn’t all of them.

  11. Chargone says:

    if you had, that’d probably count as an idiosyncrasy in it’s own right.

    two would be a different story.

    • But I don’t think it’d be very wise for me to go blabbing what I know. To be honest though, I work from home most of the time, so I don’t know anything that juicy like potential licenses and the rest is kind of boring.

  12. I have to admit, I get a small thrill browsing the Amazon Marketplace, looking for deals on OOP manga. (And since I don’t care much about condition, I’ve gotten some really fantastic deals.) I’ve made it kind of a goal this year to collect every CLAMP title ever released in English, except for X since it’s too long and unfinished. So far I’ve bought Shirahime-Syo, Legal Drug, Suki: A Like Story (which is now my favorite CLAMP series), Miyuki-chan in Wonderland, CLAMP School Detectives, Duklyon Clamp School Defenders, and most of Angelic Layer. Add those to the series I bought new (plus Chobits and Wish, which were given to me by a friend), all I need now to complete my CLAMP collection is the last volume of Angelic Layer, Tokyo Babylon, RG Veda, and Man of Many Faces. (Oh, and Kobato., but that’s new. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.)

    I also have my eye out for a reasonably priced Vol. 1 of Name of the Flower, and I would love to collect Tramps Like Us and Marmalade Boy one of these days…

  13. Franzeska says:

    I mostly read in Japanese, but a lot of things are still out of print (not shounen so much, but josei titles and older shoujo from smaller publishers go in and out of print all the time). Finding that one seller on Amazon Japan willing to sell Fire! for a reasonable price and ship overseas was the best feeling ever.

    I buy a lot of older things I’d heard about when I started reading manga in English but never thought I’d have a chance to read. Even if they’re dated–even if they turn out not to be that great–it’s worth it just to finally get my hands on them. It’s like the satisfaction of finally buying yourself that toy your parents said you “didn’t really need” when you were 5.

    When I was first reading manga, there was usually more of a gap between when titles came out in Japan and when they were translated into English. So not only was that 15 years ago, but a lot of those series were already a decade old at the time. Liking those styles, I sometimes find 70’s manga more accessible than 00’s manga. There’s less of a gap in aesthetic. (Plus, of course, many of the early series chosen for translation were chosen specifically to appeal to a certain taste profile that doesn’t at all match the average English-speaking manga fan today.)

    One thing I love about older manga is how well some of it fits into aesthetics you see in English-language media too. Bastard!! is the perfect encapsulation of 1980s metal and D&D-inspired fantasy schlock. Crying Freeman (and basically everything else by either of its creators) is a more serious version of every oily muscleman-filled 1980s hollywood action movie. From Eroica with Love is riffing off of campy 60s spy-fi, among other things. (It’s no wonder so many Man From U.N.C.L.E. fans like it!) A lot of older shoujo reminds me of Mercedes Lackey and every other teen angst-obsessed fantasy novelist I loved when I was 13.

    Of course, there are people who don’t like anything older in other media too, but I find it kind of perplexing how many people won’t read old manga but love 19thC literature or decades-old tv shows.

    • Yeah, there’s so much out of print in Japanese that we don’t even realize! But just like publishing companies in the states, Japanese manga pubs can’t afford to keep EVERYTHING in print!

      The former tastes of the U.S. manga market seem so much more interesting to me than some of the current tastes (no doubt that there are some great titles coming out nowadays though.) I almost wish I had been smart enough to buy some of that manga while it was still in print, but my manga tastes were so different 10 years ago when I first started. (Not to mention, I had no money of my own.)

      There’s some great 1990’s stuff too! Eagle, Club 9 and Banana Fish fit best into those 90’s business power people and gang life aesthetics. Club 9, like I mentioned in the post is definitely a product of Japan’s economic bubble and you don’t see the same enthusiasm for money and good times in manga nowadays.

      People who can’t stand older media are missing out. There’s a different level of appreciation for new media when you’ve watched old movies or read old manga. It still amazes me how far CGI has come from the home-made special effects of the past. The visual qualities of movies and tv have improved so much. It’s crazy!

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