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3 Things Thursday: Manga for Christmas

So, I know I put a lot of new, awesome manga in my gift guide this year, but when it comes to my own Christmas list, I admit I bulked it up with oldies. There are a few older shoujo series in particular that I’ve been collecting over time, and it looks like this Christmas, I just might complete my collections! At least one I’ve read all the way through already, and all I’ve read to a point, with the help of libraries, friends, and (in one case) scanlations, as some volumes have rapidly fallen out of print and are difficult to purchase without paying hundreds of dollars to some unscrupulous Amazon or Ebay seller.

Out-of-print shoujo is one of my deepest woes, and since the more we talk about these dwindling series, the more likely Viz is to consider omnibus treatment (or so we hope and dream), I’ll dedicate today’s 3 Things to three shoujo series I’m hoping to own in completion after this Christmas!

I’m Gettin’ Manga For Christmas

1. Basara, vols. 24-27 | Yumi Tamura | Viz Media – Oh, how long I’ve been collecting this series! Perhaps my greatest regret as a latecomer to manga is that I wasn’t aware when this series was originally being published of what it was, or how sad I’d one day be when its middle volumes started going out of print after I became a fan. Fortunately, most of the trickiest ones I’ve already picked up, including the legendary volume 20, which goes for $125+ online, but which I happened to stumble upon at a convention two years ago for 20% off the original retail price. My quest for this series has seemed endless, but with just four volumes left, I’m counting on Santa to pick up the slack. You wouldn’t let me down, Santa, right? RIGHT? And by “Santa” I mean “my in-laws.” :D

My post-Christmas marathon reads will be epic.

2. Please Save My Earth, vols. 11, 12, 15, & 18 | Saki Hiwatari | Viz Media – Back when I was a manga n00b, I read this series scanlated in its entirety, with no concept of how difficult its volumes would be to find once I started trying to buy them up myself. I’ve been cobbling together my collection since late 2007, buying new when possible, but also snatching up some of the harder-to-buy volumes as trades or used books when I could find them. Having recently acquired the elusive volume 7, I have just a few, scattered volumes to pick up before I can re-read that series, which I shall do with relish as soon as my collection is complete.

This series is a special pet of mine, because it’s one that I desperately want to recommend, but with a major stumbling block. “This is the greatest series ever. You’ll have to pay upwards of $25 (plus shipping) just to read the first volume, and after that, well… But seriously, it is the greatest ever!”

3. X/1999, vols. 8, 9, 16-18 | CLAMP | Viz Media – I’ve slacked off on collecting this series, partly because I’m a bigger fan of Tokyo Babylon (which I own in its entirety and have reread several times), and partly because it’s unfinished anyway, but I realize my assessment of it is hardly fair, since I’ve never read past volume 7. My collection’s holes begin there, and I’ve never been able to move forward. I thought it was time I persevered, so I put my missing volumes near the top of the list this year.

My greatest difficulty with X/1999 of course, as a fan of Tokyo Babylon, is that it’s painful for me to watch what’s become of my beloved Subaru in the aftermath of that series. It’s also a bit painful to know that the story is not about him, when he’s the one who’s already got all my loyalty and interest. Can I overcome my issues and join the ranks of other CLAMP fans, who laugh at my TB obsession in the face of their obvious superiority? Thanks to Santa, we may soon find out!

So, that’s what I’m hoping to score this holiday season. How about you?

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  1. Posts like these make me soooo glad I’m a buy-and-hoard type. I bought Basara and Please Save My Earth as they were coming out, so I didn’t experience any of these woes. :)

    And I’ve never read/finished X, either. I liked the anime okay, though, and it includes a cameo by the CLAMP Campus Detective boys, as well!

    • Well, I wasn’t even a manga fan when they were coming out, and in fact did not even know what it was, so at least I think I have a pretty good excuse! :) I think that’s actually why I’m so hung up on trying to revive out-of-print shoujo, actually. I mean, sure, it’s great for people who were in on the releases as they came out, but how are series, or even their genres supposed to gain new fans if people can’t get the books? I couldn’t even recommend that a teenager now should buy PSME, even if she might love it. She’d never get all the volumes!

  2. It would be really nice if they would publish out of print manga as downloads. Of course reprints would be better for people who want to collect physical copies, but if the complaint is they don’t want to put out the money to print, well, digital copies don’t have that problem.

    It so often feels like companies don’t really want to sell stuff. They’d rather complain about how bad business is and how those evil pirates are hurting them than to do things that would enable them to sell more copies.

    • Yeah, I think that would be nice too. I know a lot of people have suggested it now that most of the publishers have begun digital initiatives of some sort. I think it would be a great solution, especially for older, long series like these.

      I should add, I think digital rights have been a big issue for the US pubs, as the Japanese rights holders have been less enthusiastic about granting them. Square Enix, for example has started their own (overpriced) online manga store, with titles that were licensed to Viz and Yen Press for print. I don’t know how complicated it might be for these older series, but it would certainly be a boon for readers.

  3. It’s volume 13 of Please Save My Earth that tripped me up. I wasn’t really into shojo at the time PSME was coming out (I read some bad stuff and it turned me off shojo for quite a time), but yeah, I eventually got 13 at about cover cost brand new so no complaints :P Volume 1 was also a problem yet volume 7 seemed to be alright for me. I still insist that knowing people who work for the comics distributors goes a long way (not long enough to find Firefigher 6 and 20 at this point, but long enough to get volume 4 of Phoenix). Glad I was buying Maison Ikkoku as it came out, now I don’t have to worry about tracking down volume 8! Got Monster as it was coming out too. I think Viz decides what volumes should go out of print by throwing darts at a board. I can only hope they’ll look over at what Tokyopop is doing and rip off their print on demand idea with the same enthusiasm Coke and Pepsi rip each other off. I also finally figured out why I like physical books so much: they just smell sooooo good!
    Buuut, I got Saikano 7 brand new in shrink wrap for 25% off cover price. This past summer. Take that!

    My xmas list consists of filling in my gaps on Hikaru no Go and Dr. Slump (I already have the hard to find volume 9). One of my Otakon projects was GTO, got vol 23 after Otakon for cover price, so not bad. Managed to get Planetes 3-4/2 at the Otakon before that too. Getting a lot of new stuff for birthday/xmas this year too, Dragon Girl, Ooku, and Not Love But Delicious Foods (Fumi Yoshinaga overload is always good), and catching up on some others, Twin Spica, NG Life, and Kekkaishi.

    • Weirdly, though I still don’t have all of Maison Ikkoku, I do have volume 8. Heh. I think there’s a little flux in terms of what is hard to find in the moment. Volume 3 of MI was my big problem, though my husband finally tracked down a copy.

      Yes, I love the print on demand idea, though from what I can tell TP is really jacking up the prices on that.

      I hope your Christmas manga comes through for you too!

  4. I got really, REALLY lucky with PSME and found a couple of the impossible volumes (7 and 13) on last year at cheap, used-book prices. I am eternally grateful to them! (I didn’t know v1 was getting hard to find though—they have it for $7 currently. I wonder if the $25 prices on may be Christmas mark-up, as lots of people try to track down volumes for gifts?) Like you, I had no idea I might someday want to read the series back when it was being published. I think I’d probably enjoy Basara, but I haven’t even tried to start it because I don’t want to deal with the difficulty of tracking volumes down.

    I’m currently trying to find a couple middle volumes of Tramps Like Us, another series I didn’t realize might be interesting until recently (I’m sure Tokyopop would love to sell me print on demand copies if it weren’t a Kodansha title). I’m also working on collecting Here Is Greenwood bit by bit after enjoying what I borrowed from the library. It turns out I really love old shoujo. I want more, more!

    I hope you get all the manga of your dreams this Christmas!!

  5. I remember my own Basara hunt (and I do have all the volume). In particular, I remember my excitement when I *just happened* to find volume 19 at a used bookstore.

    However, for someone who is just starting a collection and does not have any volumes, my recommendation is to go straight to eBay and wait for a collection of volumes including rare ones. You can probably get a better deal that way, and it takes less effort to aim for several rare volumes at once than to track them individually. This is the approach I took for Please Save My Earth.

    I did read all of X/1999 (via library) and I enjoyed it much better when I stopped trying to follow the plot. I have never tried Tokyo Babylon, in fact, I think X/1999 is the only Clamp series I ever finished (to the extent one can finish an unfinished series).

    As for what I’m trying to get this holiday season … nothing. Seriously. I am going to move soon, so this is a really bad time to accumulate comics (or material possessions of most kinds).

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