Having become a manga fan quite a while after its arrival to North America, I often find myself in the position of being “late to the party.” Which is to say, I’m often discovering newly beloved series years after everyone else. Though I’ve occasionally acquired such series slowly and painstakingly (and often expensively) long after they’ve gone out of print, new trends in omnibus and digital re-releases have recently made such discoveries much easier and more accessible than ever before. With that in mind, here are a few series I’ve belatedly discovered over the past few months!
3 older series to which I’m (fashionably?) late:
1. Loveless | By Yun Kouga | Viz Media – This series should not have been a surprise for me in the slightest, given my well-established fondness for Yun Kouga’s work, notably Crown of Love and Gestalt. Yet somehow, it was. After rescuing its license from Tokyopop’s now-defunct North American publishing division, Viz has not only continued where Tokyopop left off (volume 9), but has also begun re-releasing Loveless from the beginning in 2-in-1 omnibus format, making it possible for latecomers like me to catch up with relative haste. Viz’s third omnibus volume (containing volumes 5-6) comes out in just a couple of weeks, leaving only one more to collect before I can finally dig into their new releases, and that day can’t come too soon. Yun Kouga’s genius for wrapping up complex characterization in the most decadent genre tropes may leave her generally underrated—but certainly not by me. For my thoughts on Viz’s first two omnibus editions, check out Off the Shelf and My Week in Manga.
2. From Far Away | By Kyoko Hikawa | Viz Media – I’ve talked about this series a lot lately, but it’s been just that difficult to get out of my mind. As part of Viz’s new wealth of digitally re-released shoujo epics, the reappearance of From Far Away is what I’ve long dreamed of, even just in concept. And in practice, it’s even better. Its high fantasy setting, fast-paced adventure, and brave, determined heroine add up to pretty much my ideal shoujo fantasy, trumped by Yumi Tamura’s Basara perhaps only due to length. From my review of the first volume: “Another factor in From Far Away‘s success as fantasy-adventure is its overall complexity and sense of intrigue … everyone is a potential enemy, and it’s not clear at all whom we should be rooting for—including Noriko herself!” I’ll take fourteen volumes of that any day. Thanks, Viz, for giving this series a second chance!
3. The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service | By Eiji Ōtsuka and Housui Yamazaki | Dark Horse Comics – This horror manga about five Buddhist college graduates who use their (sometimes supernatural) abilities to provide paid services to the dead had always sounded intriguing, and with other members of the Battle Robot (along with half the manga blogosphere) frequently singing its praises, you’d think I’d have hopped on board without question. But I’ll admit that series’ high (still rising) volume count and the sketchy availability of its early volumes kept me at arm’s length. Fortunately, its availability on Dark Horse’s iPad app has given me the opportunity not only to obtain the first few volumes without having to rely on Amazon third-party sellers, but also to feel comfortable buying and reading at my own pace, for a reasonable price ($5.99 a pop) on the device I most prefer. I’ve just finally read this series’ first volume, and I’ve become a fast fan.
Readers, what manga parties have you been late to?