Greetings! This Thursday’s featured collector is Candace, an avid reviewer who writes about manga and anime at her site Lovely Duckie’s Blog. Like many manga fans, Sailor Moon played an essential role in introducing her to Japanese animation and comics. In the nine years Candance has been a collector, her tastes have evolved to include a wide variety of shojo and josei titles — she counts Skip Beat! and Tokyo Crazy Paradise among her favorites — as well as series such as Bakuman, The Drops of God, and Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. Oh, and her library is one of the largest we’ve featured to date, with other 2,600+ volumes. My only question: does she have staff to help her shelve and catalog it all?! – Katherine Dacey
How long have you been collecting manga?
January 2003. I started off REAL slow, I was only able to keep up with a single series at a time. As I got old enough to have a job my collection grew. I used to work one day at a bakery once a week to buy 3-4 volumes of manga every other week or so. Now that I’ve graduated college and have a job I pre-order whatever I want, it’s heaven.
What was the first manga you bought?
I pre-ordered volume one of Sailor Moon (Pocket Mixx) from the Barnes and Noble one town over from where I lived. The next series I tried out was Cardcaptor Sakura, but I was also eyeing Fushigi Yugi. (I didn’t actually read Fushigi Yugi until many years later.) After Cardcaptor Sakura, I had my hands full trying to buy every CLAMP series I could; the only ones I missed out on were Clover (THANK YOU Dark Horse for the re-release) and a couple of the CLAMP School volumes.
How big is your collection?
I’m at 2600+, the list I keep is a bit outdated but you can see most of what I own at this link (http://www.justmanga.com/vmb/13795). I’m in a situation where I can have lots of shelves and easy access to most of my manga, I recently had to pack up two bins and fill the top shelf of the guest bedroom closet because my figures were competing for the space. I decided to cut back on figures to save money and space, so those two bins may be able to be unpacked again, we’ll see. Not going to lie… when it’s time to move to a new home, this is going to be a major inconvenience for me and my significant other. When I moved last time I collected LOTS of wine boxes from the liquor store and packed them in those. Wine boxes are a nice size that makes it so I don’t accidentally make any one box that’s too heavy.
What is the rarest item in your collection?
I’m not sure, once I own the manga (or art book) I don’t really keep tabs on if it becomes rare or not…I’d guess perhaps owning all of Basara is the rarest series I own. Volumes 18-20 seem pretty overpriced at the moment. I also think a few of my Kindaichi Case Files manga volumes are difficult to buy at a reasonable price, back when I bought the set a few years ago some volumes were already starting to be a pain to find. And since Tokyopop is no more, I doubt there are any reprints of Kindaichi. I also own most of the Osamu Tezuka volumes released in the US including all of Phoenix. For art books… my Cardcaptor Sakura (English) #1-3 art books seem somewhat rare, I also have all the (Japanese) Aria art books.
What is the weirdest item in your collection?
It could be my used copy of InuYasha, which the previous owner colored in tops on all of the breasted yokai. There were a lot of harpie-like creatures so he/she had their work cut out for him/her! If an average friend off the street came into my collection room and selected a manga at random…there are quite a few series that I can think of that they would find weird. Hands down the weirdest series for me to read was After School Nightmare; the ending especially was an extremely weird moment for me. Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is another series I love that could be considered very weird, I can think of many scenes that are shocking to someone casually flipping through.
In terms of just items I own (not just manga)…the weirdest item is probably my Franky POP Megahouse Figure, his outfit/character design is extremely difficult to explain…and figure manufacturer really didn’t need to add that much detail to his speedo…darn you Megahouse for your accuracy.
How has your taste in manga evolved since you started your collection?
It was all magical girl stuff at first, then shoujo, then shonen, and now I read just about every genre. My favorite reads are good mystery series. I also tend to favor seinen, and slice-of-life series. I’ve found that if it’s available I prefer to watch the anime of my favorite shonen series over the manga, my all time favorite anime is One Piece, but I can’t say for sure it’s my all time favorite manga. In general I think most action series can be made significantly better by anime because the flow of the action is easier to appreciate, plus sometimes the (Japanese) voice actors breathe even more life into the character on top of the good structure made by the manga-ka.
Who are your favorite comic artists?
CLAMP, Yoshiki Nakamura, Ririko Tsujita, Osamu Tezuka, Eiichiro Oda, Kozue Amano, Fumiya Satō/Yōzaburō Kanari, Kenta Shinohara, Naoki Urasawa, Ai Yazawa, Inio Asano
What series are you actively collecting right now?
Too many to name. But some of the volumes I look forward to the most are Skip Beat!, A Bride’s Story, Higurashi When They Cry, Ai Ore!, Bakuman, Drops of God, Bunny Drop, Alice in the Country of Hearts, Yotsubato, Ikigami, Kingyo Used Books, Kobato, March Story, and Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.
Favorite Series that were Dropped (US Release)
The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko, Aria, V.B. Rose, Bride of Deimos, Kindaichi Case Files, Swan, GinTama, Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo, The Queen’s Knight, The Stellar Six of Gingacho
Favorite Series that may never make it to the US
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)?
I try and put my complete series in spots that are more difficult to access, because I tend to have to disturb that shelf less often (adding more volumes and pulling down older volumes to re-read before reading the newest volumes). I tend to buy deep bookcases and double layer my manga (so entire rows are hidden from view by more manga), so do as I say and not as I do, if possible openly display all your ongoing series. It’s a major headache to read the latest volume of a series and then not be able to find where the rest of the series is.
Just because the first few volumes of a series are easy to find (and cheap) doesn’t mean the rest of the series will be easy to find too. In fact, sometimes it’s a sign of the exact opposite. If there is a series you’re interested in, go to Amazon and check to make sure no single volumes are out of print (OOP). It’s dangerous to the wallet to get deeply involved in a series that will later force you to separate with excessive amounts of money from a seller for a single volume. If this series has a few OOP volumes that are significantly overpriced, try to find some scans and read them on-line to preview the series. If it’s something you think you’ll REALLY love, then go to eBay and wait to buy the whole series as a set. Plan on having to pay more than the total MSRP of each book totaled, but USUALLY that total still ends up being less than separately tracking down each individual volume. Sure, the first 11 volumes may be available from sellers for 1 cent plus shipping, but those volumes in the teens that cost $50 – $90 a piece will completely suck away all your savings from the previous volumes. Plus if you buy them as a group on eBay you tend to get a set that’s less worn, all the worst condition volumes of manga I own were from sellers on Amazon not accurately describing the condition of the volume. (There is NO SUCH THING as a “like New” ex-library copy of manga in my opinion!) But DON’T underestimate buying from Amazon sellers either, I’ve had cases where I got an entire series at half its MSRP because I bought from lots of different sellers at 1 cent per volume.
If you like to keep up with all your series, and you have a lot of series originally priced at under $10, then use Amazon. If a manga is originally priced at under $10 it will be buy 3 get the 4th free with free shipping (free shipping at over $25 which is around what it will cost). Currently I wait for enough of my Viz shoujo series to have a bunch of available pre-orders and put them on order all at once. And YES buy 3 get the 4th free does work on pre-orders too, now. But the drawback is that more and more manga is originally prices at over $9.99 these days, so I can’t apply the sale to as many series as I once did. But Amazon does a decent job discounting volumes that cost more than $9.99, too. Right Stuf also seems like a great source of manga. I can’t complain about their service or their available stock, and I REALLY like the catalog they send out.
Some of you might be asking…if you can get chapters scanned why pay for legitimate copies at all!? Some of my ALL TIME favorite series are only partially scanned online, OR not at all. Fan Scans don’t work if the series you love is a big hit in Japan but not so much where you live. Plus, I respect the mangaka too much to not put money in their pockets for their efforts.
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.