manga bookshelf

3 Things Thursday: tl;dr

It happens to everyone at some point or another, for some reason or another. Sooner or later, every manga fan will drop a series they previously liked–maybe even loved–out of boredom, disappointment, or just plain oversight. And though a significant part of what draws me particularly to manga is its tendency towards long-form storytelling, it’s happened to me too.

Though as Kate Dacey recently stated, breaking up is hard to do, sometimes making up is even harder. Once you’ve let a few volumes pass for this reason or that, even if your intention is to pick a series back up, the catch-up can be daunting. So on this 3 Things Thursday, I’ve decided to take a look at 3 series I’ve dropped, intentionally or not, why I dropped them, and what my chances are of returning to the fold.

3 series Melinda has failed to continue:

1. Bleach | Tite Kubo | Viz Media – At this point, I suppose I know more fans who have stopped reading Tite Kubo’s shounen battle epic than those who have kept on, but for my part, I’m actually a little surprised. While it’s absolutely true that I tend to find its long battle sequences tragically uninteresting, the point at which I dropped the series (after volume 28) feels a bit sad. Yes, the series was headed into a (likely) long stretch of battles, none of which I was keen on sitting through, but it had also just produced two of my favorite volumes of the entire series. With such riches so recently offered up, why did I stop reading?

I think it’s possible that $9.99 a volume just felt like too much to spend to wade through another swath of battles, waiting for the next bit of juicy characterization to finally materialize. Now I’m more than five volumes behind. Return? Unlikely.

2. Otomen | Aya Kanno | Viz MediaOtomen is a series that has left me tormented. On one hand, it’s absolutely brilliant. I mean really, truly, a gorgeous piece of work. But much like one of Kate’s drop-ees, Detroit Metal City, a person could die waiting for something to actually happen. These series are like old-school television sitcoms. Though at any moment it might seem like something significant could happen, changing its characters’ lives in truly dramatic ways, everything is back to normal by the end of the episode, with everyone safely returned to exactly where they started. As brilliant as the series’ premise is, it’s failed for me as long-form storytelling, and unless there’s going to be some genuine forward motion in plot or characterization, I’m loathe to give it more of my time.

I stopped reading this series after volume five, though on some level, it broke my heart to do so. It’s such a smart, funny series. But what’s an epic-loving girl to do?

3. Pluto | Naoki Urasawa/Osamu Tezuka | Viz Media – This dropped series is the saddest of them all, because I had no intention of dropping it at all. And though I understand how it happened, I’m not sure how to get back on track. Back in July of 2009, I wrote an entry called Tears and Manga, inspired by my experience with volume four of Pluto, which had so affected me with the death of a mechanical dog in its first chapter, that I was unable to continue reading at the time. Now, any regular reader of this blog will know that I love to be hurt by fiction. Really I do. I love to feel deeply about what I’m reading, even if those feelings are difficult to handle. I fully expected to jump right back into Pluto, one of my very favorite series at the time, once I’d recovered from the hurt, and I expected to read it eagerly to the end. But the truth is, I haven’t. In fact, I don’t even own past volume five.

How do I return, now that I’ve failed to buy the rest of the series? Can my heart or my pocketbook ever manage it? I sincerely hope so.

Readers, what beloved series have you dropped and why?

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  1. John Jakala says:

    I do all my manga reading via the library these days (saves space and $$$!) but even then there are series I stop following for various reasons. Bleach is one of the first that comes to mind. Even for free I couldn’t put up with all of the endless battles, especially when it seemed every volume introduced a dozen new characters I’d never be interested in rather than focusing on the core characters I cared about.

    Some other series that I’ve stopped reading are: Children of the Sea, Library Wars, and With the Light. Most times what happened was I checked the latest volume out of the library and never got around to reading it before it was due, so after that I never bothered to request future volumes and just kind of forgot about the series.

    • You know, I actually associate you very strongly with Bleach, because you were writing about it a lot at the time I first started reading it (I’m a latecomer), and also because of this post way back (and yes, I did just spend a half an hour looking for it), where I remember being pleased that I was not the only one who ‘shipped Ichigo with at least three different people. So somehow, knowing that even you have dropped Bleach makes me feel a little better about it.

      • John Jakala says:

        Yes, I was quite the Bleach fanboy back in the day. (I think I even self-proclaimed myself the biggest Bleach fan of all time, so it’s ironic that I lost interest.) In fact, Bleach was probably the series I blogged most about, at least judging by tag frequency.

        Bleach is probably a series I could follow more easily if I were reading it in weekly installments as originally serialized. In book form it was just too hard for me to remember what the heck was going on after a gap of several months.

        • I agree, I think it suffers from breaks in between volumes, and there’s nothing so disappointing as to discover after a break, that the volume you’ve been waiting for is just full of battles.

          • John Jakala says:

            At one point I referred to Bleach as the best superhero comic on the stands. At the time that was my shameless way to encourage superhero fans to check out Bleach, but it was prophetic in that, like most long-running superhero comics, it collapsed on itself by becoming too convoluted and loud. At this point how is a newcomer supposed to jump into the series? How can a casual reader like me sustain interest?

            • There’s a point in a long series where I think it’s okay for it to no longer be viable for a new reader trying to jump in at volume fifteen, say. When I think about Fullmetal Alchemist, for instance, which has a large cast of supporting characters and a pretty complex plot for shounen, the volumes would be maddening for existing fans if Arakawa had to try to keep it easily accessible for new readers all the way through. But, unlike Bleach, there’s a single over-arching plotline driving everything, the fights are only there to move that plot forward, and though the cast is big, new characters are introduced sparingly, and only as necessary to the story. So even 24 volumes in, the tension is still high, and we’re still anxious to know what happens next. Obviously Bleach has run longer, but is that a good thing?

              • John Jakala says:

                True, long-running series can’t be all things to all people. Maybe the secret is to continue to make it rewarding for the long-term fan. I know I’m always a little hesitant when I pick up a new volume of Kekkaishi but I get sucked right in and have no problem following the story.

                Actually, now that I think about it, Bleach may be easier for new readers to pick up because it’s so focused on the mindless fights at this point. If you caught the anime and thought it was cool you could probably just pick up a random volume and enjoy the fights for what they are. (I do still appreciate Tite Kubo’s ability to stage interesting fight scenes but at this point the novelty has worn off for me.)

                I wonder how long it’ll be before I grow bored with the endless basketball scenes in Slam Dunk? (I’m still ridiculously in love with that series and each volume goes by way too quickly!)

                • I know Michelle Smith is still just as hooked on Slam Dunk as you are, so perhaps it will be some time before your interest wanes!

                • Personally, I think Slam Dunk is just inherently better than Bleach. I can’t see my interest waning any time soon. I have to make myself wait until I’ve stockpiled a couple of volumes, though, because otherwise they do go by too quickly. Gonna be reading 13-15 this weekend!

  2. I have dropped two that really diaspointed me for diffrent reasons one was Boys over Flowers wich while I loved Tsukush and thought Rui was an intresting love intrest being alternitvelly sinde condescending rich boy and fumbling easelly emabressed boy in love this sereis got way to pricey for me seeing as the first 15-16 volumes are almost all out of print combine that with the fact that I could place an order and still never get it along with long delays in shipping it hurt to drop this title becuese it was a good romance but ultimitelly it just became a matter of cold hard economics.

    Number two would be tokyo babylon I gave up after three volumes becuese I just found it insuferblly heavey handed in it’s message and some of the early stories are to put it bluntlly stupid (a possesd pant’s suit I mean come ooon!) combined with the fact that I dont really like BL and you have a sereis that I wanted to like but just did’nt.

    • Luckily, I had Michelle to loan me Boys over Flowers in its entirety, so I faced no such obstacles. If I had, I don’t know that I would have finished the series either. I loved it early on, but it did wear on me after a while.

      Heh, and Tokyo Babylon is possibly my favorite CLAMP series (final opinion pending the release of the rest of xxxHolic). The early volumes are very episodic, but it definitely shifts later on. Perfectly wrapped up in 7 volumes.

      • And I bought Boys Over Flowers—along with Basara and Please Save My Earth—as it came out, so never had to deal with acquiring costly out-of-print volumes. Thank goodness. I’ve encountered this with other series, though. Still waiting for an affordable copy of BLAME! volume six to come along.

      • I re-read Tokyo Bablyon not too long ago and was really disappointed; I loved it when I was first getting into manga, and was bummed that it didn’t make me swoon the second time around. I’ll be curious to see if a new translation makes a difference or not.

  3. I haven’t even read past volume two of Pluto, though I do own the rest of the series, so I don’t consider it dropped at all.

    Regarding Bleach, as someone who is right now struggling through v33, you have not missed anything. Honestly, I’m not sure why I am still reading it. Maybe I’ll be dropping it, too, after I finish my review. Certainly the only reason I am still hanging on is that my local library has the entire series; I certainly wouldn’t want to pay for it.

  4. Man, your stopping of Pluto reminded me of why I stopped watching Legend of the Galactic Heroes after the first season. I picked it up again, oh, 8 months later, and the whole thing has been out for years so there was so additional catching up to do, but boy, it only got better every season so I’m glad I picked it up again.

    As for Bleach, I quit after volume 21. Sold all the books off to a friend cus the prospect of reading it again was like “ugh”, but I mostly dropped it because the anime had been infuriating me around episode 150 (now I’m like 100 episodes behind at least), with its half episode long recaps and its pointless annoying filler, I except it to one day get a “Bleach Kai” treatment like DBZ got.

    • We watched the Bleach anime for a while (my husband prefers anime over manga), though we ended up just completely skipping filler arcs. We dropped off of that too, though.

      • I feel like now I will excuse very few manga, especially shonen, going past 20 volumes since they usually tend to start going into blah territory. FMA and Kekkaishi are some of my rare exception (I suppose GTO is too and Firefighter Daigo was 20 volumes, but I could’ve used more!)

  5. Fullmetal Alchemist – I’ve missed a few volumes of this now, but when they started getting into some of the deeper masculine/feminine alchemy theory, it reminded me of some really annoying trad Wiccans so I set it aside for a while.

    Bleach – It seemed fresh and innovative for a volume or two until it up and decided to turn into the most cliched standard shonen series ever put to print. I held out hope for a few more volumes until a friend ‘spoiled’ the endless procession of battles and militarism I had to look forward to.

    Inu-Yasha – I’ve bought the first five or six volumes of this series three or four different times now and though I’m excited that I finally managed to read some new material with the omnibus releases, it’s pretty low on my worthwhile investment list after the money I’ve already spent on the beginning, haha.

    Otherwise, I generally have a really bad habit of stopping on series or game right before the end. As soon as I can see there are no big twists coming up and everything is going to wrap up just as expected, it’s hard to see the point. When a movie is especially bad, I like to stay until just before the end and then walk out as a bigger dis to the film itself. “See that, movie? I just wasted your time!”

  6. My list of dropped titles is very long — I grow more and more impatient with age, I guess! NANA is one of the titles I dropped; I never really loved it, even though I could appreciate the skill with which it’s written. I also dropped a lot of Del Rey titles — Princess Resurrection, L’Chevalier d’Eon, Alive: The Final Evolution — because the premise wasn’t good enough to sustain the series past a second or third volume. Right now, I’m on the fence with Rin-ne; I’ve liked two volumes and disliked two, which isn’t a very good track record for any series, let alone one by an old pro like Rumiko Takahashi. I have a sinking feeling it may be the next series I stop collecting.

    • I am going to continue reading RIN-NE, even though it’s not amazing, but I am not keeping it. I guess for me this is a middle ground—things I will read but which don’t need to take up space in my house. The local library profits from this arrangement.

  7. Ah, Inu-Yasha. I stopped collecting it when I realized I was mostly skimming through the volumes looking for Sesshoumaru to appear. I still did flip through the books at stores reading the Sesshoumaru bits.

  8. I stopped reading Nana for a bit, I’m ashamed to say. I think it was when Hachi had just found out she was pregnant, and dropped Nobu like a stone. I was completely disappointed in her! What got me back on track was reading you guys chatting about how Hachi really was reacting differently than I’d expected. Glad I got back to it!

  9. I know exactly how you feel about Pluto, Melinda. It was an effort for me to pick up every volume, and agony to read it. But, it was so lovely, so *adult* I had to keep going. Here’s how I motivated myself – I was buying it for my library. I couldn’t leave them with half the story, so I kept picking it up, reading it and donating it. This is how I get through a lot of stories I might not otherwise keep on with.

    Series I’ve stopped. I stopped reading One Piece in Japanese when the Thriller Bark arc just became intolerably dull for me, but picked it back up in English. I keep promising/threatening to stop reading Tsubomi and Yuri Hime Wildrose (now Girls Love) but never do.

  10. I have dropped series for a number of reasons. I just realized that there was no need to continue buying series that I know won’t read again and end up taking too much space I would rather save for series I love.

    Haruka -Beyond the Stream of Time- by Tohko Mizuno. Despite the beautiful art style and the hot bishounen, I didn’t find myself enjoying this series at all. In all honesty, I have to say it was a complete rip off of Yuu Watase’s Fushigi Yuugi. From what I have seen from the Japanese releases, it even has almost the same ending. Dropped it after 3 volumes.

    Mixed Vegetables by Ayumi Komura. It wasn’t bad but again, not something I would read again. One of those typical, cliche shoujo you see everywhere. Dropped it after 2 volumes.

    Bride of the Water God by Mi-Kyung Yun. One of the things I don’t like about manhwa is that most of the characters look the same that you cannot tell who is who at some point. This is what happened to me with this series. Don’t get me wrong. I would want to read more of it and to know how things will develop between Habaek and Soah but I just kept getting more and more confused that I had no choice but drop it after five volumes.

    Portrait of M & N by Tachibana Higuchi. Since I am a fan of the mangaka’s Gakuen Alice, I thought of giving this one a shot but ended up not enjoying it all and so I dropped it after the first volume.

    There are more that I dropped but these are the ones that came to mind.

  11. Dropped series? The first that comes to mind for me is Ouran High School Host Club. I’ve got up to volume 14, and I think there’s only 3 more till I complete it, but once I heard who Haruhi ended up with I kinda internally raged and dropped the series. I even took it down from my book shelf. Will probably sell it eventually.

    Another series I’ve dropped is Air Gear. I think it lost it’s way more than Bleach really. I’ve got up to volume 14 I think. The last single volume before Del Rey moved to omnibuses. I followed this one through scanlations while also buying the volumes as Del Rey released them, but after a while I had absolutely no idea where the story was going, and there was way too much fanservice as if Oh! Great was trying to cover up that he didn’t know what he was doing. I definitely wanted to own up to when Kazu mans up and it just so happened that it was in the last single volume. I hate omnibus sized manga so it was a convenient place for me to drop it.

    Seems like volume 14’s the curse for me. But I do love Bleach, even if it’s just one fight one after the other. Even if the quality of the story drops, there’s just so much keeping me interested in it, and I’m hoping for a Bleach speed up (if there is one, I’ll gladly stop reading scanlations) ^_^

  12. I have a happy ending story! (well, sort of.) I had picked up the first six volumes of Nodame Cantabile a few years ago, while in college (the first three I found super-cheap at a con) and I read them and liked them moderately but not enough to seek out the rest. I think I was a bit put off by all the odd/wacky characters. And that was that …but THEN! This past Valentine’s Day, I was intrigued by your naming Chiaki as one of your chocolate-recipients, and with some other commenters chiming in I started to wonder what it was that had led me to give up on the series. So I reread my six volumes… and bought another volume… and then I went ahead and ordered 8-16 and read them all in 3 days. It was great! And now I’m all caught up! So hopefully this will turn into a real happy-ending and Kodansha will finish publishing the series. I hope I hope I hope! (also, thank you for inspiring me to catch up!!)

    My not-so-happy endings: I dropped Papillon after 2 volumes (too drama-tastic) and Tail of the Moon after 4 volumes (too completely silly and ridiculous—though I picked up a couple later books used/cheap just recently. still silly and ridiculous.) I read as far as v4 of Kare First Love (around the same time as Nodame, back in college) but kinda stalled out there too.

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