It’s Thanksgiving day here in the US, a day in which we consume a great deal of pie. It’s also a time for us to focus on the gratitude we feel for the people and things that most enrich our lives. Over the past few years, manga has been a significant part of that enrichment in my life, along with the many friends and colleagues I’ve accumulated in its wake.
One of the greatest gifts bestowed upon me regularly by the people I’ve met through manga is, of course, the introduction to new manga, and there are a few of those introductions that stand out, not only for the manga themselves, but also for the role they’ve played in defining my tastes and even who I am as a manga blogger. So for this week’s 3 Things, I’d like to talk about three manga (or two manga and one manhwa) that have defined me as a blogger and the wonderful ladies who introduced me to them.
3 influential comics and the women who gave them to me:
1. Hikaru no Go | Viz Media | Aja Romano – I’ve told this story countless times, about the friend who finally convinced me to read manga and the elegant shonen series with which she achieved this truly incredible feat. What I often leave out of the story, though, is that she accomplished this by giving me some of her own Hikaru/Akira fanfic to read which, regardless of its canon-ness (or lack thereof) was filled with the same detailed characterization and deep sense of optimism that makes the series so very appealing.
I mentally thank Aja nearly every day as I gaze at my towering shelves of manga, and even more often as I engage with other manga bloggers on Twitter, in blog comments, and occasionally at conventions. I’ve thanked her directly many times as well, but there really isn’t any amount of thanks that could truly suffice. So today, I’ll thank her again.
Thank you, Aja!
2. xxxHolic | Del Rey Manga | The lady at Anime Ink – I was a bit lost after my original introduction to manga. Since I’d come into the medium through a shonen sports manga (sort of), I tried a few others of that kind, but none of them really grabbed me. I had better luck with shonen fantasy like Fullmetal Alchemist and Black Cat, but when I stood in the aisles of our local manga/anime shop, I was pretty much at a loss.
The shop was called Anime Ink, and one afternoon as I stood there staring helplessly at the shelves, the owner of the shop (whose name I regrettably don’t know) asked me what manga I liked so far. When I told her, she pondered for a moment, and then led me over to the end of the aisle. “I don’t like much CLAMP,” she said, “But this one is different.” She pointed at the first volume of xxxHolic, which I picked up and bought that day. The rest, of course, is history. Anime Ink is closed now, so I guess I’ll never know her name. But I’d like to thank her anyway.
Thank you, lady at Anime Ink!
3. One Thousand and One Nights | Yen Press | Katherine Dacey – At the end of 2008, in preparation for her departure from PopCultureShock, Kate Dacey cleared out the last of the manga review copies she had in her possession, sending out boxes to each of the site’s remaining writers. My box contained, among other things, the first six volumes of Han SeungHee and Joen HinSeok’s One Thousand and One Nights, one of the first Korean manhwa series I’d ever actually seen, and definitely the first I had the opportunity to dig into in bulk.
I was immediately enchanted by the series, which somehow managed to balance brutal violence, heady romance, and old-fashioned storytelling in a way that perfectly satisfied my most basic personal tastes. This not only began my love affair with the series, but also with manhwa in general, which has become a significant part of my comics collection as well as my identity as a blogger.
Thank you, Kate!
So, readers, what are some manga that have influenced who you are as a fan? And who introduced you to them?