Kingyo Used Books 2
January 27, 2011
Seimu Yoshizaki – Viz – 2010 – 11+ volumes
I may have said this last time, but 11 volumes? Yikes.
This volume continues to have a smattering of short stories that share Kingyo Used Books in common. Some are about customers who visit the store and how manga affects their lives, and some are about the employees and the store itself. All feature one particular manga series prominently, with the series profiled in the back.
My impression hasn’t really changed from last volume, which is a shame because I really want to like this series. I do like it, and I love all that it has to teach about its various featured manga series. But the stories and characters are just… not that interesting. I think the Kingyo employees, including the buyers that frequent the store and the relationship that seems to be heavily implied between Naoaki and Natsuki, could be interesting with a little more development, and I think the one-shots involving manga could be a lot of fun, too. But the stories that we get are lukewarm. A hostess reading manga stories to an abandoned child? A boy standing up to a bully because he read Adolf? Troubled young boys ride a train because there’s one that takes you to the ends of the galaxy in Galaxy Express 999? All the one-shots are pretty heavy-handed and feelgood, and that’s a shame. There are a hundred stories you could write about people reading manga. Maybe these will get more interesting as the series progresses. The main characters are mostly a framing device for the one-shots, but when the spotlight is turned on them? We get a story about Natsuki’s troubled parents and one about her working hard at the store. Hmm.
There were a couple cute moments in the volume, though. One of the one-shots was about burly men buying girly manga. The story was, again, pretty lukewarm, but it was such a cute idea, and I loved watching the manly ouendan member (ooh, second time in a week, Dragon Girl) talk about how much he liked Chichi. I also liked the short story at the end about Natsuki’s grandfather. He faked a knowledge about clovers and flowers on the spines of some manga. He spun a wonderful yarn that was even better when we found out what the real story was.
But I’m going to continue picking it up simply because it has such detailed information about obscure manga in it. I am a huge geek, and while I can get better characters and stories elsewhere, there’s no other series in English that will teach me as much as this one. The Rose and the Ring, by Fujiko Fujio, is an adaptation of a Thackeray story (!!!) and is also one of the rarest books floating around – it was only published as a supplement in Shoujo Club, and only twelve copies are known to exist. There’s also better-known works spotlighted, such as Tezuka’s Adolf and Matsumoto’s Galaxy Express 999, and popular but unknown in English series such as Jarinko Chie (67 volumes) and Chiisana Koi no Monogatari (40 volumes, but at one volume a year since 1970, it’s one of the longest-running manga time-wise). It’s interesting stuff, and really, it’s why this series is worth reading.
Again, I can’t see anybody but manga geeks really getting into this, but I do hope it continues. I’d love to see it touch on other work, and I do learn a lot with every volume even if I’m still not warming up to the stories. And again, it’s worth sampling for free on Viz’s Ikki site. You don’t have to read the chapters in order, and it will give you an idea just how much manga is discussed and what a broad range it has in that respect.