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?
Aaron saysMarch 28, 2013 at 4:16 pm
Three series for me where:
Azumanga Daioh and
Dance In the Vampire Bund
Myrah saysMarch 28, 2013 at 7:40 pm
I, too, got into the manga game rather late so I missed a lot. But especially Fruits Basket and Hikaru no Go.
AshLynx saysMarch 28, 2013 at 8:38 pm
I only just read From Far Away a few months ago myself, so I’m only slightly earlier to the party than you are. It stays good the whole time, imo, glad you’ve joined the party! I was also very late on the Basara party, also a fairly recent acquisition, more awesome fantasy shojo!
Fruits Basket was something I was incredibly late on. This was a series that first started coming out around when I got into manga, but thanks to Tokyopop’s advertising it as a silly animal changing romantic comedy, I largely ignored it. Then I saw lots of praise on here, saw 9-23 (sans 22) at a used store for $3 each, and the others were easy to get too. Definitely a party worth finally attending. I didn’t get a single volume until after Tokyopop went under.
The whole of CMX’s titles was another party I was late to. Because DC sucked so much at advertising the line, I wasn’t even aware it existed until maybe 3-6 months before they went out. As a result, all of my CMX titles were gotten after the fact.
Firefighter Daigo was another party I’d say I was late to except no one bothers to throw a party for it anyway. Except me. Because it is awesome. But sold freakishly poorly (I’ve heard rumors saying 2000 units for the entire 20 volume series). The last volume came out in 2007, but I didn’t get any until maybe 2010. But I’m throwing a party for it, and you’re all invited! Just don’t expect to be able to read it any way other than the physical books (I’ve looked, there’s not even fan scans for it it is that obscure).
Travis saysMarch 29, 2013 at 9:15 pm
Although I’ve been reading manga for almost twenty years, there are still way more series that I’ve started reading after they’ve been going for a while or even after they’ve finished. There’s really only a handful that I’ve started reading right when the first chapter was published (a few more when the first volume was published). Part of this is that I tend to prefer completed series than ongoing (I forget stuff really quickly, so if I’m reading a long ongoing series, chances are I’ve forgotten almost all of what led up to this point XD), but even if I don’t mean to put something off until it’s finished, it often just works out that way because I can only read so much at one time. And then of course there are the series that I’ve heard about for ages but only recently heard something that made me want to actually give them a try (for example, I’ve known about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure for years and years, but only started reading it this year and now I have a bazillion volumes to catch up on). And then sometimes there are older titles I’d never even heard of before.
Even when I’m reading something as it’s released, I’m not that likely to talk about it with other people right then and there, so for me it’s no big deal if what I’m reading is current or stopped running twenty years ago.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 29, 2013 at 9:21 pm
I would think also that it’s unavoidable that you’d start things later if only because of the much larger pool you’re choosing from. Most of us are only faced with the comparatively small catalogue of manga available in English (and even that has been much too great for me to catch up on, now over five years in). With the whole history of Japanese manga in front of you, it’d be impossible to keep up with everything new even if you tried! :)