Hola, manga lovers! As you might guess from my salutation, this week’s featured contributor hails from Spain — Barcelona, to be exact — and she has a collection that will make American readers green with envy. Sara owns a little bit of everything: Riyoko Ikeda’s The Window of Orpheus, Sanpei Shirato’s The Legend of Kamui, Asao Takamori and Tetsuya Chiba’s Ashita no Joe, Naoko Takeuchi’s Codename: Sailor V, and Takashi Murakami’s Stargazing Dog are just a few of the manga gracing her bookshelves. Like our previous European contributors, Sara is multilingual, collecting manga in Catalan, Spanish, French, Italian, and English. – Katherine Dacey
Hi, everybody! I’m a girl from Barcelona and a passionate manga fan. I also love singing, having promenades, and speaking with friends. If possible, I buy manga in Catalan, but if the volumes I want aren’t available in this language, I don’t mind buying them in Spanish, English, French, or Italian (or other languages I haven’t had the opportunity to learn yet). I also own some Japanese editions, just to collect them, because I can’t understand them.
How long have you been collecting manga?
Eight and a half years, more or less. I think my parents have already assumed that I’ll be a manga fan for the rest of my life!
What was the first manga you bought?
Technically speaking, I have three “first” mangas:
- Sailor Moon, Vol. 16: This was the very first manga volume I bought. I didn’t like it at all because translation was horrible. I had watched the anime, so for me it wasn’t a problem to follow the story.
- Fushigi Yugi, Vol. 1: My first unflipped manga!
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle: Although I now hate this series, it was the first one I collected seriously.
How big is your collection?
Right now, my collection is between 300 and 400 volumes. It’s quite small considering the number of years I have been collecting manga, but I can’t afford to buy more volumes and I don’t count mangas I’m trying to sell.
What is the rarest item in your collection?
Let me see… I own the French edition of Devilman Vol. 1, many volumes of the Catalan edition of Doraemon, Spanish editions of The Legend of Kamui: The Island of Sugaru and Baoh, and some older Spanish editions of Kaikisen, Barefoot Gen, and Promise. I have many other OOP Spanish editions, but they aren’t particularly rare. Finally, I don’t know if it’s rare, but I own the animal encyclopedia of the Nod·d·a·ringniche Island, which is magnificent, even if I can’t read it.
What is the weirdest item in your collection?
This one is easy: DDT and New National Kid. Both of them are quite similar: short stories by Suehiro Maruo, as weird as they are disgusting.
How has your taste in manga evolved since you started your collection?
As I started collecting Tsubasa, I became curious about CLAMPS’s work. Most of the manga I bought then was by CLAMP since I loved their style; when I tried something that wasn’t by CLAMP, I usually didn’t like it. (Shop assistants didn’t give me good advice!) I enjoyed Shin Shun Kaden’s story even if it wasn’t complete, I laughed like a mad with Miyuki-chan in the Wonderland, I was nostalgic with Shirahime-Syo and was traumatized by RG Veda.
When I passed volume 22 of Tsubasa, I started to dislike it and I didn’t find other mangas that satisfied me. This was my crisis manga period. Then one day I randomly borrowed the first volume of Rose of Versailles from a library… and it was so fascinating I couldn’t stop reading. I had to return to the library and take the other volumes the sooner the better. My manga crisis was over.
I’m still angry with CLAMP – so angry, in fact, that I didn’t try Kobato or Gate7 and didn’t finish xxxHolic. I think they have evolved, in both art and scripts. That said, I still like their ’90 mangas such as Tokyo Babylon and X.
Right now, I like well-constructed stories and dramas but I also enjoy good comedies. Even if the genres I read the most are shôjo, seinen and josei, I try to taste a bit of all (except from lolicon and shotacon, which I consider aberrations). Ah! And I love older mangas, especially the ones from the seventies, a decade when many masterpieces were conceived.
Who are your favorite comic artists?
Nowadays, my favorite one is Riyoko Ikeda: I love her dramas and the way her stories develop. Even though the Rose of Versailles Gaiden is horrible and I would have preferred that she hadn’t drawn it.
My favorite slice-of-life mangaka is Fumiyo Kôno: her drawings and scripts are so lovely. When I read her works I feel like floating. My favorite artist is Macoto Takahashi: his fairy tales landscapes are just breathtaking.
What is your favorite series?
This one is pretty difficult. I have many and I can’t just choose one. I’ll try not to name more than one manga per author: Oniisama e… (Riyoko Ikeda), Nagai Michi (Fumiyo Kôno), Coo no Sekai plus its sequel A Patch of Dreams (Hideji Oda), Tokyo Babylon (CLAMP), Fruits Basket (Natsuki Takaya), Ikkyû (Hisashi Sakaguchi), Sand Chronicles (Hinako Ashihara), The Willow Tree (Moto Hagio), Blue (Kiriko Nananan), Red Colored Elegy (Seiichi Hayashi), Calling You (Otsuichi & Hiro Kiyohara), Lovely Complex (Aya Nakahara), Gakuen Alice (Tachibana Higuchi), Uzumaki (Junji Ito) and Stargazing Dog (Takashi Murakami). Of course, they may change in the future as my own tastes evolve and I discover new works.
I suppose that I can’t choose because I haven’t found yet a manga I feel it’s been created just for me. Maybe someday I will.
What series are you actively collecting right now?
Just Gakuen Alice. In fact, I would like to collect actively more series, but I can’t afford it, so I just try to buy second hand books or special offers. There are a few series that I would like to finish/continue; if I can’t find someone selling them at a good price, I’ll buy them at comic shop. They are Ashita no Joe, Last Quarter and Lovely Complex.
I would buy more first-hand comics if the prices were lower. However, Spanish people prefer better-quality editions, and are willing to pay more for manga, even if translation is abominable.
Do you have any tips for fellow collectors (e.g. how to organize a collection, where to find rare books, where to score the best deals on new manga)?
Organization. I organize my manga collection by themed shelves, drawers, and boxes which can change as my collection grows. I also build my own manga boxes. It requires some time but I enjoy making them.
Bargain hunting. I buy a lot of second-hand manga and take advantage of special offers from shops. This is great way to find rare, OOP comics (and sometimes not so expensive, if you’re lucky) and to save money.
For second-hand books, I visit Spanish forums with a second-hand market section. I also visit Barcelona’s Newton shop and Barcelona’s Mercat de Sant Antoni, an old book, comic and videogame market which takes place every Sunday. I also try to find good second hand-offers in big manga/comic conventions, such as the Saló del Manga de Barcelona and Saló Internacional del Còmic de Barcelona.
For special offers, I often visit comic shops and check their promotional displays.
Collection purging. Sell items you don’t like! The best option is through forums or sites such as eBay, because if you try to sell them in a comic shop they’ll pay you nearly nothing. Sometimes, if I bought something really, really cheap I could even earn some money.
Mangas published in other countries. Sites such as Book Depository and Deastore are quite useful for people who know foreign languages but don’t plan to buy a lot of products. (The shipping costs are always free.) If you buy in bulk, you should compare the prices with Amazon, then, because the shipping costs are free if you spend meet a certain minimum. (Editor’s note: That minimum varies by country; in the United States, orders over $25.00 qualify for the free shipping promotion.)
Sara prepared a comprehensive list of her collection; you can view that list by clicking here to download a PDF version.
Show Us Your Stuff is a regular column in which readers share pictures of their manga collections and discuss their favorite series. If you’d like to see your manga library featured here, please follow the directions on this page.