Kingyo Used Books 4Posted: October 3, 2011
Seimu Yoshizaki – Viz – 2011 – 11+ volumes
Again, I’m torn on this series. On one hand, I am genuinely fascinated by all the manga tidbits and history included with the chapters. The bonus content in the back, with one page dedicated to explaining one “legendary” manga series per chapter, is an especially nice touch. I’d keep reading the series for this information alone.
Which is great, because I’m less thrilled by the actual short stories. This time around, none of them are really about the young man and woman that run the store (though one story is about Natsuki’s parents). The stories seem to be increasingly about the incidental customers at the bookstore, and many characters from previous stories are beginning to re-appear and connect with more of Kingyo’s clientele. I don’t remember these characters very well, though I don’t think that matters terribly much. Each story is self-contained, so you don’t have to remember each of the customers from story to story.
My favorite this time around was “An Odd Couple,” about an older man and a young boy trying to stop an arsonist who is setting fires next to used bookstores in the neighborhood (as an aside, it blows my mind that Japan has neighborhood that can support multiple used bookstores). The older man is a 60s shoujo manga otaku, and the younger boy is a new customer to Kingyo. They’re both rather sarcastic and short-tempered, but they make a really funny pairing. Plus, the clue is a character from a Moto Hagio manga, and learning about her is never boring.
There’s a short story in the very back (the bonus manga for the volume) about the evolution of a logo for a particular line of Shueisha educational manga. I got a perverse amount of pleasure out of the incredibly mundane subject matter. Really, I imagine learning about the evolution of a logo they’ve never even seen would bore the pants off most people. I found it rather fascinating, though.
Other stories in the volume include a young couple who find a common language in Ranma 1/2, a magician that uses manga to connect to his clientele of elderly patrons, a young boy who discovers the visceral horrors of Go Nagai and Devilman, a story about a geeky-looking man who takes offense to good-looking men geeking out in Kingyo… all of them have the warm feel-good twist at the end. None of them are bad, and I enjoy reading the volume. But they are rather mundane stories. I think they probably read a lot better in short bursts, or even in context with the rest of Ikki magazine. Actually, I bet the stories are a great fit there. There’s such a diverse group of stories in that magazine that short stories on the history of manga probably fit right in.
This probably isn’t a series for anybody but hardcore manga buffs. But for anybody that, say, has a manga website with thousands of entries, many obsessing over stylistic links and art and story evolution in manga, it’s a great read. There’s no other place to get a lot of this information in English, and for that alone, I’ll keep reading.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.