Welcome to the latest installment of Show Us Your Stuff! Today’s contributor is Myrah, an educator-in-training who’s passionate about books, baking, and CLAMP. Her collection is modest but catholic, and includes some rare Antique Bakery doujinshi. Here’s what this very busy woman had to say about her growing manga library.
Hello! I’m an undergraduate working on a major in English and minors in Education and Asian Studies. I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing and I’ve wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. My decision to pursue Asian Studies is a more recent thing, partly influenced by my love for manga, and partly by my general interest in World History. I’m working on my Chinese and will hopefully study abroad in China for a semester in the near future.
I don’t have much free time between class and working as a teacher’s aide, but when I do I like to bake yummy things, ride my bike, and pet my cats. Besides my manga collection, I also have a rather large library of novels, anthologies, plays, non-fiction, and other graphic novels. Simply put, I love books!
What was your first manga?
That would be Sailor Moon, which is kind of strange because I never saw the anime. My sister (who doesn’t like books, let alone manga) borrowed the first few volumes from a girl on her school bus, and since I read everything I came across back then, I gobbled them up. I wound up buying most of the series, but sadly sold it years ago. I was very happy to hear Kodansha would be re-releasing it. (But I still haven’t seen the anime…)
Who is your favorite manga-ka?
From a critical stand-point, I would go with Fumi Yoshinaga. She is like a goddess to me. But as a fan, I’m going to have to say CLAMP. Sure, they’ve disappointed me on several occasions, but I just seem to keep coming back to them. CLAMP definitely aren’t the best storytellers out there, but those ladies are very good at crafting characters that I get emotionally invested in. I also really love that they can do so many different kinds of series and yet stay true to themselves. I always know a CLAMP work when I see it!
How long have you been collecting manga?
I have a poor memory, but I believe it has been four or five years now. During that time I have never had a steady form of income, so most of my purchases were funded by carefully saved change and bought secondhand. (I live near an amazing used bookstore! Amazon Marketplace, eBay, and Garage Sale Japan on livejournal are all also awesome.) Recently I have been able to afford buying new books, but I’m still a total penny pincher and love scoring good deals.
What is your favorite series?
Easy: Fullmetal Alchemist! I own the complete runs of the two anime series and the full soundtracks for both, but the manga is what I fell in love with first and still owns my eternal devotion. FMA is the one series that I recommend to everybody, no matter their tastes or prior experience with manga. For me, it is one of the greatest stories ever told– a true epic! FMA is also my favorite series for nostalgic reasons– it was the third manga series I read, but it was the one that made me really get into manga and think of it as something I could take pride in reading rather than just being a guilty pleasure.
How big is your collection?
At last count, I have about 430 volumes, but it’s a kind of fuzzy number thanks to omnibuses and the fact that I’m constantly buying and selling manga. I get more manga every month though, since I try to keep up with new releases I’m interested in.
What is the rarest item in your collection?
The rarest books in my collection are also the two I’ve spent the most money on: Antique Bakery doujinshi by Fumi Yoshinaga herself! They’re a sort of unofficial continuation of the series, taking the four main characters in the directions Yoshinaga saw them going in. I spent about $85 for the pair of them and each is only 42 pages. They are 6 and 7 out of a set of 12 (I think?) and I’d like to get the rest but my checking account would never forgive me.
What is the weirdest item in your collection?
I don’t have anything that is particularly out of place… probably the weirdest manga I have according to content would be Cromartie High School.
What series are you actively collecting?
I buy all new releases of Black Butler, the Cardcaptor Sakura omnibuses, Cross Game, Fullmetal Alchemist (almost done!), House of Five Leaves, MPD Psycho, Nabari no Ou, Sailor Moon, Wandering Son, Yotsuba&!, and xxxHolic.
I’m working on catching with Bunny Drop, Chi’s Sweet Home, Hikaru no Go, Kekkaishi, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Monster, Twin Spica, and Yakitate!! Japan.
Do you have any organizational tips you want to share with other readers?
Well… don’t keep your manga on the floor for one thing! Shelves are a worthy investment, but I simply don’t have the space in my dorm. I maintain an inventory of what I own, what condition it is in, and who I loaned what to so that I don’t lose track of anything. Once a collection gets past 200 volumes, an inventory pretty much becomes a necessity, in my opinion. I keep my manga sorted into four rough categories: CLAMP, manly series, series of questionable manliness, and everything else. I try not to let my collection skew too far into one direction, but it’s pretty obvious that I have a penchant for BL. Most importantly, keep your manga in a place where you can smile at it! There’s nothing sadder than pretty books tucked away in a corner.
Aaron saysOctober 25, 2011 at 9:17 am
MY modest collection of Clamp works weeps at the epicness of this collection that and Antique Bakery doujinshi FTW dang!
Myrah saysOctober 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm
CLAMP is really fun to collect, isn’t it? So many different series and all so pretty looking! I hope your collection continues to grow!
Aaron saysOctober 26, 2011 at 9:35 am
I sufferd throguh Rg Veda and Tokyo Babaylon not to mention I paid almost $40 for volume 3 of Suki I tressure it but I got a budget so I have my small collection despite the fact that I set out to collect almost everything (yes even Miyuki Chan) by Clamp but still good work.
CJ saysOctober 25, 2011 at 11:04 am
Awesome collection! I see Banana Fish, Furuba, Hikaru no Go, and lots of Yoshinaga! Always great additions to any collection! I am the most jealous of those Yoshinaga dj, obviously!
But man, you get to keep cats in your dorm?! Lucky! I would’ve loved to have my cat Butters in the dorm with me! And you have room for your manga in your dorm? My dorm was about the size of a small kitchen, I could only fit about 30 manga in a spare drawer and switch them out when I went home for holidays and such.
Myrah saysOctober 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm
I wish I could keep my cats in my dorm! Nah, they stay at home with my parents. I go home most weekends to see them. I can talk to my family over the phone, but I can’t pet my cats over the phone!
My dorm is pretty decent-sized, it’s apartment style and I share with three gals. I don’t have a lot of floor space, so I usually stack my manga underneath the bed (the frame can raise about four feet off the floor.) But I took it out so I could get better pictures.
I used to bring my ENTIRE library to campus with me with all of my non-manga books. But the my library has grown too much in the last year, so this year just the manga came with me. There is no way all of my books could fit under my bed anymore.
CJ saysOctober 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm
Ok, now I’m not as jealous about the cats! Still jealous about the room, lol. My university would only allow dogs if you were raising one for the seeing eye program, but that didn’t stop my one friend from having her kitten in her apartment-like dorm anyway! I had a traditional style dorm, so mine was too small for kittehs.
Since I couldn’t fit much manga, I got a DVD binder so that I could at least take anime and games with me!
hamster428 saysOctober 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm
Off topic, but this reminds me of the days when we kept a hamster at our dorm-apartment (not where my handle comes from though). Everytime the dorm staff comes by, one of us would hide with the glass tank in the bathroom pretending to be showering.
Sara K. saysOctober 25, 2011 at 11:16 am
(Translation: Hello! I am also studying Chinese. I hope we will both be able to read Chinese very well. Why China? Why not go to Taiwan? In Taiwan you can study traditional Chinese characters. there are a lot of manhua published in traditional characters (there isn’t so much manhua available in simplified characters) . Taiwan is also a democracy. But China is not a democracy. Furthermore, the Chinese Communist party wishes to annex Taiwan and destroy Taiwan’s democracy. In order to prevent Taiwan from declaring independence, China’s People’s Liberation Army is currently pointing ballistic missiles at Taiwan. I might be speaking to bluntly, but I love Taiwan, and I think people should consider going to Taiwan before they go to China. Your Antique Bakery doujinshi are really cool – you’re making me wish I had those doujinshi too!
Sara K. saysOctober 25, 2011 at 11:30 am
And in case you haven’t had a chance to study Chinese characters yet, here is the pinyin version of the above comment (with some grammatical mistakes corrected):
wǒ yě shì zhèngzài xué zhōngwén。wǒ xīwàng záliǎ hòulái huì kàn zhōng wén de fēicháng hǎo。
wéishénme zhōngguó？wéishénme bù yào qù táiwān xué？zài táiwān néng xué fántǐ de zhōngwén zì。yǒu hěn duō shǐyòng fántǐ de zhōngwén zì de màn huà（méiyǒu nàme duō de shǐyòng jiǎntǐ de zhōngwén zì de mànhuà）。táiwān yě shì mínzhǔ， kěshì zhōngguó bú shì mínzhǔ。 érqiě zhōnggòng yào zhēngfú táiwān yě yào pòhuài táiwān de mínzhǔ. wéile zǔzhǐ táiwān xuān bāngguódúlì zhōngguórénmínjiěfàngjūn xiànzài shì miáozhǔn zhōujìdǎodàn duì táiwān。wǒ kěnéng shuo de tài tángtū kěshì wǒ ài táiwān。wǒ yě xiǎng qù zhōngguó de yǐqián rén yīnggāi kǎolǜ qù táiwān。 nǐ de xīyánggǔdǒngyángguǒzǐdiàn de tóngrénzhì hào kù ā－nǐ ràng wǒ yuànyì wǒ yě yǒu nà běn tóngrénzhì！
Myrah saysOctober 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm
I’m learning the characters but just the simplified versions, so pinyin is appreciated. I’d try to write back to you in Chinese, but I’m a newbie and on a tight schedule so I don’t have time to thumb through my dictionary for the next few hours, haha.
I definitely agree with Taiwan’s politics and policies a lot more than I do with China. However, my university has a sister school over in China so it is easier and cheaper for me to study there. I’d love to go to Taiwan someday. Hopefully the opportunity and the finances will line up together in the future!
Sara K. saysOctober 25, 2011 at 8:27 pm
If finances are what’s holding you back ..; the Taiwanese government gives some sweet scholarships to foreign students who wish to study Chinese and/or Taiwanese or Chinese culture. By “sweet”, I mean that they would cover your tuition and part of your living expenses to boot. You can find out more information at:
I also know someone who got one of these scholarships, so if you have specific questions, I could ask her.
And if you are interested in Chinese-language comics, I recommend studying the traditional characters at some point – the comic book selection in traditional characters is better.
Myrah saysOctober 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm
This program looks very generous! I will have to look into it, thanks for the info!
As for comics, it would be fun to read in Chinese. Nowhere near that level yet! I’m stumbling my way though Silver Diamond in Chinese since most of the series was never published in English, but it’s slow-going because of all the traditional characters Ｉ ｄｏｎ＇ｔ ｋｎｏｗ． Ｉ＇ｍ ｈｏｐｉｎｇ ｔｏ ｓｔｕｄｙ ｔｈｅｍ ｍｏｒｅ ｏｖｅｒ ｗｉｎｔｅｒ ｂｒｅａｋ， ｂｕｔ Ｉ ｓｉｍｐｌｙ ｄｏｎ＇ｔ ｈａｖｅ ｔｈｅ ｔｉｍｅ ｒｉｇｈｔ ｎｏｗ．
Sara K. saysOctober 26, 2011 at 12:19 am
I’d like to learn the simplified characters some day myself (I used a computer program to convert my comment into simplified characters – I cannot actually type in simplified characters directly) but for now I am focusing on perfecting my traditional character reading skills.
Unfortunately, most (all?) of the traditional character – English dictionaries available in the United States suck. If you wish to study the traditional characters, or just want some assistance in reading Silver Diamond, I recommend getting Far East 3000 Chinese Character Dictionary. It is a wonderful dictionary, though my Chinese is starting to become good enough that I am bumping into its limitations. Considering that any other Chinese – English dictionary (at least one which uses traditional characters) would have similar limitations, once I outgrow this dictionary I will probably have to get a Chinese-Chinese dictionary and … well, that would be quite a plunge. I don’t think I’m there yet, so this is still my primary character dictionary.
Oliver saysOctober 25, 2011 at 11:22 am
How do you pick out books to read from those types of piles? And Border 2 is out already?! And the 2nd Seven Days? WTF it’s not in stores here yet!! You’re lucky you have Flower of Life 4. A little friendly competition here, but my CLAMP collection beats yours :) You’ll soon see if I ever find a good camera to display my collection in all its glory.
Myrah saysOctober 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm
It is a true skill to get the books out, especially when they are at the bottom, haha. I’m pretty good! When my friends try, there is usually an avalanche.
I usually buy new releases from Amazon, but they are always behind on DMG and June releases. So for those books, I buy from Akadot Retail. I got Border 2 and Seven Days 2 from them. It costs more, but I’d rather fork over a few more bucks than wait half a year.
Oooh, I hope you find a camera so I can see your CLAMP collection. I have some artbooks of theirs and some of CLAMP no Kiseki, but I forgot to do photos of that stuff. And Gate 7 just came in the mail for me today! Yay! Maybe someday I’ll aim to own everything buy them, but that’s gonna have to be a day when I have real job and disposable income.
Estara saysOctober 25, 2011 at 11:38 am
I adore that you have a section of your collection named “manga of questionable manliness” – and I totally agree that since I acquired enough money to a) have my own living room and b) buy enough shelves – it is much more satisfying looking and browsing in my own collection of manga ^^.
With your dedication and methodic work, I bet you’ll be able to build as much of a brilliant collection as you want. Good work!
Myrah saysOctober 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm
I loan manga to some guy friends, so I kind of have all of my series rated by manliness in my head in order to give more dude-friendly recommendations.
Thank you for the well wishes! I hope I’ll be able to afford shelves and have space for them soon. Books are much prettier when shelved correctly.
Estara saysOctober 26, 2011 at 7:53 am
That’s a great thought!
I only was able to afford a flat with a living room big enough for bookshelves in my late 30s myself ;-) The books are prettier, less dusty and easier to find in shelves – although I’m starting to run out of space because the rest of my book collection shares the shelves.
hamster428 saysOctober 25, 2011 at 1:01 pm
That was how half of my collection looked a few weeks ago (stacked up I mean). I had the hardest time getting to them so I gave up reading until I got a shelf. I also have a CLAMP section, but mine is teeny tiny since I’m not particularly a fan. Do you go to Berkeley btw? You don’t have to answer if you’re not comfortable disclosing your location :P you just reminded me of their Asian Studies library, which is not something you’d expect to see at many schools.
Myrah saysOctober 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm
Nah, I’m not somewhere so prestigious as Berkeley. I go to a medium-sized state university in Florida. (I wasn’t in a good position to leave the city, so I had to stay in my hometown. Plus, full ride scholarship FTW!) I wish my school had a nice Asian Studies library! We have a very big, awesome library in general, but the Asian Studies program is fairly small here so no special section for us.
hamster428 saysOctober 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm
No worries Berkeley isn’t that prestigious :D But I do love the amount of libraries they have. Our own school has two libraries: the main engineering one and an architecture one. Couldn’t even dream of an Asian Studies one, hence my amazement when I saw the construction of Berkeley’s during the summer I visited.
lovelyduckie saysOctober 27, 2011 at 9:29 am
CLAMP…what a terrible weakness for me too!!! Not only to I buy every CLAMP series available but I seem to keep buying them over and over again as new companies gain the licenses and release them in better ways!
Jade Harris saysOctober 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm
Series of questionable manliness…I can get behind that.
Katherine Dacey saysOctober 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm
Isn’t that an awesome phrase?! I wish I’d thought of it myself!