I’m a very patient reader. I like long manga series, and since the long ones usually pace themselves (up to three full volumes of exposition at times), I’ll usually give a series that’s captured the slightest of my interest at least five volumes to woo me. Some of my very favorite series took a while to warm up for me, including the likes of xxxHolic and Fullmetal Alchemist–series I now vigorously recommend.
While it’s rare that I’ll drop a series completely before the five volume mark, there are times when I simply can’t go on. Sometimes I can recognize this as a pure matter of taste. Toriko, for instance, is a perfectly fine series… if only it didn’t make me recoil in disgust. Others, I find genuinely offensive or perhaps just completely lacking.
Considering my overall patience, I usually trust myself on these few occasions, but there are times when my judgement is so at odds with those whose tastes I normally share, re-evaluation seems in order. So for today’s 3 Things I’ll ponder a few rejected series that have earned a second look.
3 manga series that deserve a second chance:
1. Butterflies, Flowers | Yuki Yoshihara | Viz Media – Though this series’ first volume won my praise immediately, its second and third volumes so rubbed me the wrong way that despite my claim that the humor would keep me going, I privately doubted I’d ever pick it up again. A quote, “It’s possible I’m still holding a grudge over “strict but warm,” which ranks right up there with “I get the message” and “Men have dreams that women will never be able to understand” on my list of Great Moments in Imported Sexism.”
But when a series is consistently championed by the likes of David Welsh, it’s time to step back and figure out where the hell I went wrong. Butterflies, Flowers, we’ll meet again soon.
2. Black Butler | Yana Toboso | Yen Press – I tried to be fair to the first two volumes, I really did. I pointed out some character bits I genuinely liked–noted how there might be a deeper story hidden under the glitz. But these lines really get to the heart of my problems with the series, “That these series are intended to appeal to female readers seems plain, with their bishonen character designs, elaborate costuming, and frequent BL overtones. Unfortunately, Black Butler‘s specialty is not just BL but shota, which makes Sebastian even creepier and not at all in a good way … Black Butler gets off to a very slow and fairly vapid start…”
Yet, just last night, Michelle Smith gave me reason to give the series another chance. What Michelle says, goes. It’s that simple.
3. Little Butterfly | Hinako Takanaga | DMP – This one is a long time coming, and while it’s a series I’ve actually read in its entirety, my initial dismissal of it is sufficient for it to qualify. Way back in my infamous thoughts on yaoi (which I’m now afraid to re-read), I said of Little Butterfly that maybe if it “had actually been ten volumes, and the romance was developed over the course of a much greater plot, I would have actually liked (it), because honestly I did find the characters interesting, what I got to see of them. I just felt cheated by the way the ‘plot’ and the relationships were rushed along to serve the romance.”
But when someone like Kate Dacey gives it a review like this… what’s a girl to do? I actually have Kate’s omnibus sitting here in my living room, and it’s high time I gave it that second look.
Series that didn’t make the cut, but could have include St. Dragon Girl (beloved by Ed Sizemore) and Hot Gimmick (secretly loved by… everyone). So, readers, what series should you give a second chance?
Khursten saysJanuary 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm
OMG. You just had to put Hot Gimmick in there. -~-) There is a different shame when admitting you read Hot Gimmick until the end. I think my worst endeavor ever was reading the author’s other comic (which was just as bad)
Butterflies and Flowers is written by one of my favorite josei authors. She’s hilarious.
Melinda Beasi saysJanuary 13, 2011 at 9:38 pm
Well, I only sort of put it on there. :D
Khursten saysJanuary 13, 2011 at 9:56 pm
And you had to remind us that everyone still secretly loves it… XDDD
Michelle Smith saysJanuary 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm
I’m going to be giving Butterflies, Flowers another shot, myself, and am going to give Black Bird one more try, as well. It just seems so wrong to give up after only two volumes.
Someday, too, I’m going to revisit Ikigami, but I haven’t mustered the urge yet.
Melinda Beasi saysJanuary 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm
Oh, Black Bird… Erik keeps sending me random new volumes & I don’t know what to do.
Kris saysJanuary 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm
You can do what I just did with a volume of Mistress Fortune he sent me, and tear it a new one.
I feel a little bad about it, because he sends me such amazing things most of the time but…uggg…..
danielle leigh saysJanuary 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm
eh, I’m not sure why you / anyone would bother with Black Bird — it’s basically textbook-shojo-gross. On the other hand, I’m a big fan of Butterflies & Flowers, but I just accept the fact the creator likes to dance around the line between hilarious / offensive / hilariously offensive.
One Piece is one of those titles that got a second chance from me, but that was thanks to the speed up and a number of review copies. I don’t know I would have bothered with that title if I hadn’t had a little bit of a push.
David Welsh saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 5:24 am
I just accept the fact the creator likes to dance around the line between hilarious / offensive / hilariously offensive.
Yes, this is the thing that gets me about the book, too, and I try not to expect anyone else to share what’s probably selective bad taste on my part, but there’s something really great about a comic for women that’s coarse and smutty and shameless. Is it weird that I give a book with those qualities a pass based on its demographic? Possibly.
Melinda Beasi saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 7:10 am
I don’t think that’s weird. I’m going to try to go into it with a lighter heart, myself. :) So far, I think I’ve liked the hilarious and the hilariously offensive… what hung me up for a bit was the offensive bits that felt serious. But I want to try going at it again. :)
danielle leigh saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 9:43 am
I also think it helps I’m very familiar with this creator from scanlations (and this is like, going back to 2005/2006 or something, that’s how long I’ve been aware of her work) and B&F is the first title I read of hers where it was the *man* who was sex-crazed and wackadoo and the woman who was sensible (well. in comparison, anyway). Usually, it’s the other way around so this doesn’t bother me *at all* because I know she’ll just flip the dynamics the next time around. (Actually, in her latest title it seems that neither of the characters is sex-crazed, so maybe she’s maturing after all! God forbid! ;-))
Michelle Smith saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 9:23 am
I think “review copies” actually is part of why I’m willing to give Black Bird one more try. Guilt, y’know? :)
Noura saysJanuary 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm
I stopped reading Black Butler after the first volume. I know I should have given it another chance but I didn’t. Another series I almost dropped was Bakuman. While the characters are not that likable, I liked the theme and I wanted to know about the world of manga artists and so I decided to give it another chance and bought the second volume. I’m still not that attached yet but I’m hoping to get there. One of the things I don’t like about the series is the female characters. They are just so annoying and I think the story will make do without them. It just makes me realize that Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata are not that good with female characters. I still remember Misa-Misa from Death Note. *sigh*
Butterflies, Flowers is a good read for me and I like the male protagonist. He is so funny! I’m also happy to see josei manga make its way to the U.S. Hopefully more will be licensed and I vote for Happy Marriage!? to be VIZ Media’s next license for josei.
I’ve read Little Butterfly a long time ago and I guess it was one of the first BL I have read. While it isn’t my favorite, I did find it cute. I even got the omnibus edition when it came out in 2009. I like Hinako Takanaga’s art style but of course the story/plot always comes first to me. I don’t care about a book if it was nothing more than gorgeous artwork. Anyway, I liked it enough that I’d love to re-read it someday.
Travis saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 4:44 am
I’m currently rereading Death Note and am a much more critical reader than I was the first time around, when I’m sad to say I didn’t even notice the misogyny. I loved Misa from her first appearance and thought she was smart and cute and just generally awesome, so I didn’t actually notice every other character constantly going on about how stupid she was. I find it really grating now (though I still love the manga in general).
Honestly, I have to say Bakuman does not get better. It gets worse. But the manga industry stuff is still interesting, so…idk. Again, I like a lot of things about it, but wow, the misogyny is pretty sickening (even more so than Death Note, IMO, because there are a lot more female characters getting shat on).
Noura saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 4:56 am
So now I’m not sure if I’ll continue buying Bakuman. I’m aware people have different tastes but if it still didn’t grab me with the third volume, I’ll have to drop it once and for all. As for Death Note, I’ve been wanting to re-read it for a while now. I’m even considering double dipping and getting the Black Editions.
Another series I’m glad I decided to give another chance and continue is Libray Wars LOVE&WAR. I like that the female protagonist is not annoying and clingy as it is the case with most shoujo heroines. I also like that the romance is not a priority in this series and that we don’t get to see the two main characters all lovey dovey. I’m actually sick of typical and predictable shoujo where you know what is going to happen and have a perfect ending.
Kris saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm
I got the opposite impression of Library Wars. The romance is all it really has going for it. But it’s great as a romance manga. It falls flat as an anti-censorship piece. It takes a back seat to the relationship. Really, it’s just the foundation for the personalities and occupations of all the characters. It’s fine like that, but I really wanted it to feel more important.
Travis saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 4:53 am
I haven’t abandoned that many series because it bothers me to leave things unfinished! I do have some I want to go back to, though, not necessarily that I dropped because I didn’t like them, but because I didn’t have money to follow them anymore. I actually keep an excel spreadsheet of all the manga I’ve read, divided into stuff I’m currently following, stuff I have read completely, and stuff I have started and abandoned. There is quite a bit in the abandoned section that I want to go back to just to finish them off for completeness’ sake.
Some of them are ones that really didn’t grab me, though. Rurouni Kenshin, Sailor Moon, and Hana Yori Dango are some big names off the top of my head where I read like the first three or four and just wandered away. It’s hard to make myself go back to something I was ambivalent about, though, knowing it will take reading time away from things I am actually keen on.
(That’s one reason I normally don’t reread; it takes away time from exciting new manga. Though I currently find myself in the middle of rereading three series at once! One is Yamazaki Takako’s Zero (post-apocalyptic cyberpunk world + reincarnation!), which years ago I was following and then drifted away from for money reasons. Now I have the full 11 volumes, but need to reread the first six to refresh my memory. The second is Death Note, which I started to reread, just skimming, in order to possibly write a pinch hit for a recent fest. I ended up going with a different fandom, but got hooked on Death Note again and so am rereading the whole thing. The other is One Piece, and I already linked to the reread I’m doing with friends. I am enjoying all of these, but argh! I’m also chafing at how much time they’re taking up. At least Zero and DN are short series.)
Melinda Beasi saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 7:15 am
Yeah, a few series I’ve abandoned early on were simply because I found them really dull or just… nothing. So I can relate to that.
It’s interesting to read (above) how much more the misogyny in Death Note is affecting you the second time around. I definitely *noticed* it on my first read, but it was compelling enough to keep my attention anyway. Now I think you’ve given me a good reason not to start with it again. Heh.
Katherine Dacey saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 9:17 am
Hmmmm… my list would include Full Metal Alchemist, Gin Tama, Ouran High School Host Club, and One or Double, the second volume of Rumiko Takahashi’s Rumic Theater anthology. The fact that you and David are both FMA enthusiasts leads me to believe that I gave up on it too quickly!
David Welsh saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 9:38 am
I have to admit that I tend not to look back if I’ve decided a series just isn’t for me. Aside from xxxHOLic, I don’t really feel much desire to give series I initially found tedious a second chance.
And I have to tell you, I found the first volume of Black Butler really tedious. It seemed entirely, joylessly manufactured to please a certain audience, which is fine, because every audience deserves things that cater to their desires, but I don’t really think my tastes overlap enough with that audience to make the book worth revisiting. And, while it’s not entirely rational, I hated that supporting cast of stupid servants so very much that the only thing that could draw me in again is hearing that they’re all killed horribly on panel.
Kris saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm
How about that they’re all awesome killers themselves?
David Welsh saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm
They hadn’t yet been revealed to be awesome killers in what I’ve read, though it would explain their utter domestic incompetence. It wouldn’t explain their stupidity, though.
Melinda Beasi saysJanuary 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm
You can add me to the list of people who would like to see those characters die.