Manga! Manga! Manga!

So, as mentioned I’ve been reading of the manga and the graphic novels and there has been much joy and bliss and wonder. As usual I don’t mention those what I’ve read and not enjoyed.

Buddha by Osamu Tezuka (Vol. 1)

Fabulous. I don’t have words for how much I loved it. Especially as I put off reading this one for almost a year. And I put it off for the lamest reason imaginable. See, back in the dark ages when I was in primary school one of my scripture teachers gave us all these Jesus comic books to read. They told the story of Jesus, and, well, there is no gentle way to put this: they sucked. The art was unspeakably bad. They were horribly written in a strange ESL English and they were indescribably boring. Seriously they were the worst comic books of all time.

When I was given Buddha, I had a flash back to those bad vile Jesus comic books, and even though the book in my hands had gorgeous artwork, it was still a comic book version of the life of a religious figure, and, I confess, that my heart was filled with dread.


Buddha is funny, action-packed, moving, the art is gorgeous and Tatta is my new hero. Go forth and read this! I’m convinced that Tezuka can do no wrong.

Her Majesty’s Dragon Dog by Mick Takeuchi (Vols. 1-3)

I don’t want to tell you too much about this. I read it knowing nothing beforehand and it was full of delightful surprises. Kind of a sweet, wry version of Buffy only without vampires.

One of the things I really enjoyed about it and also Nana and Buddha too, now that I think about it, are all the cool, wry, witty authorial asides.

I suspect that I’ve just made a fool of myself in front of the hard-core manga lovers, haven’t I? That’s like a sign of it being manga, isn’t it? Are there any books about the history and development of manga I should be reading? Please to tell. I want to know more!

Monster by Naoki Urasawa (Vols. 1-7)

Wow. Seriously wow. This one seemed to this ignorant reader to owe a lot to Ode to Kirihito. Another doctor hero, lots of surgery scenes, also completely unputdownable. I can’t tell you what agonies I’m in waiting to get my hands on the next few volumes. It hits so many of my buttons, but I can’t say which without major spoilers.

I’d be really happy to discuss all of these in more detail in the comments thread. Just please please please don’t mention anything beyond the volumes I’ve read. And, um, I guess that constitutes a spoiler warning for the comments.

Here’s my big complaint about manga: it’s almost impossible to get hold of the volumes I want. I’ve tried every book shop in NYC trying to get hold of Her Majesty’s Dog vols 4, 5 & 6. And don’t get me started about Buddha. Is there a volume 2, 3, 4 or 5 available on the face of the earth? No, there is not. Lots of 9 and 10s though! Aaaarggghhh!!!!!!!! It drives me completely spare. I need them now. I do not wish to wait. Even stupid Amazon won’t give me more Her Majesty’s. I kick Amazon. I kick NYC book shops. I want more Buddha. And I want it NOW!!!

In short: Manga = good. Not being able to find the vols you want = bad.


  1. february on #

    “Are there any books about the history and development of manga I should be reading? Please to tell. I want to know more!”

    i’d say that the best way to learn more is just to read more! one of the best things about manga (and probably the reason it does great guns overseas) is how you can just dive right in. just by reading tezuka you probably know more about the history of manga than most who would self-identify as manga fans already!

    and honestly if you like urasawa already, i can see him becoming one of your favourite comics authors. his current project is a retelling of tezuka’s tetsuwan atom (astro boy)! and not even that nor monster is what most people would consider his best work!

  2. jennifer, aka literaticat on #

    I think we have all the buddha, along with some of those others. let me check tomorrow when I get to work. and if I do, I can send them to you.

  3. Diana on #

    So by ‘her majesty’s dragon’ you really mean ‘her majesty’s dog,” right? It’s not a manga version of temeraire?

  4. Gillian on # usually has the books everyone else forgets to stock. If you get complete manga series via this route, though, I want to borrow them (*how* I borrow them when I live in Canebrra and you live everywhere else is perhaps an issue).

  5. Mely on #

    GoComi has a special deal with Borders for distributing Her Majesty’s Dog, so later volumes are only available in Borders — they’ll go to general distribution after a delay.

    Frederick Schodt is the person people will usually tell you to read for manga background, but I think Paul Gravett’s Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics is better.

  6. Rachel Brown on #

    I particularly like “her majesty’s dog” volume 5, which has flashbacks.

    I haven’t started “buddha” yet, because it’s about the buddha and I thought it would be boring, New Agey, and preachy. No, huh?

  7. oyceter on #

    I ditto Mely’s recs for Schodt and Gravett, though I reacted less well to Gravett.

    I’ve also got a slightly outdated list of academic articles and whatnot (scroll past all the history stuff), though some of it can be pretty hard to find. Oh! And if you haven’t gone there already, Matt Thorn’s page has a lot of his own articles on shoujo manga and BL/yaoi.

  8. marrije on #

    really, i don’t need more recommendations on my plate. that buddha thing has been eying me whenever i visit the american bookstore on my errands in the hague, but i’m not going to give it satisfaction. will not. will not.

  9. Justine on #

    I’m not at all wild about ordering online. I like to go to book shops and get instant gratification which I did today as I traipsed around various Borders until I had a full set of Her Majesty’s Dog. (Bliss! And yeah, Diana, my brain knows it’s “dog” but for some reason my fingers are convinced it’s “dragon” also my mouth sadly.) Thanks for the Borders tip, Mely.

    Also it turns out Scott has an old edition of the Schodt so I’ll read that and then the Gravett.

    Oye and Mely: What are your issues with the Schodt and the Gravett? Too much orientalism? Thanks for the Matt Thorn link.

    Marrije: I really loved Buddha Vol. 1, but maybe it goes down after that? I recommend you get Ode to Kirihito first because it’s standalone in one volume and it’s total awesomeness. It’s still my fave of all the manga I’ve been reading. I can’t wait to reread it.

  10. Justine on #
    There are HEAPS of cricket fans in NYC! They play every weekend out in Queens and Brooklyn. There are heaps and heaps of Indian and Pakistan and Bangladeshi and West Indian immigrants here. There’d be quite the audience for an ODI here. You should see the crowd at Eight Mile Creek where they’re showing all the world cup matches.
  11. kalyn marie on #

    I know exactly what ur talking about. my barnes+nobles has a whole book shelf of manga but only a few books in each series (ex. 1, 7, 16, 23…) how messed up is that?

  12. oyceter on #

    Because I am lazy, here is my grumpy reaction to Gravett. Though I have to add the caveat that Mely is right about Gravett covering more of the creation process better, and I suspect that if you read Gravett before reading Schodt, you will be much less grumpy than me.

    Oh! And if you’re willing to go for the slightly more obscure, Sharon Kinsella’s Adult Manga is a great look at the adult manga industry, a lot of which is a good overview for the manga industry in general.

  13. Monica on #

    That was probably one of the funniest rants I’ve read in awhile. I kick most NYC bookstores on a daily basis myself. LOL!
    I miss Coliseum books. Why, oh why did they close down.

  14. Justine on #

    Stick around, Monica. I am a cranky person. There are many rants here and there will be many more. I even have a ranting category.

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