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?