Grotesque Anatomy
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
  Manga Musings
The Pulse has an interview up with Tim Ervin-Gore about Dark Horse's manga line.  He talks about which manga titles have exceeded expectations, and which series aren't doing so well.  He also states "I don't think manga sales have reached the apex yet. I still perceive an expanding audience due to more anime hitting television, and the ever-widening television experience."  He does acknowledge that "the market is fickle" and things could change unexpectedly, but he sounds optimistic overall.

When asked "How do you decide NOW which titles to introduce to Western audiences?", Ervin-Gore offers this humorous response:
First we consult the Hagakure, and then the I-Ching. After this is a period of meditation, concentrating on the image of a salivating otaku, and eventually, it drives us nuts and we can't sleep for days. Of course, not sleeping for days and still having to work, we're driven to drink lots of tea, the leaves of which tell us, in a state of insanity, which books we should nab. Of course, at that point, we're speaking in tongues and we have to call down our Tibetan translator, who is only paid in blocks of ghee and gold bullion. Sometimes these elements are hard to come by, so it's not uncommon for other companies to swoop down and negotiate contracts out from under us. I think it's time to rethink the transcendental method, really.
I think this is similar to Grant Morrison's answer to the question, "Where do you get your ideas?"  (Ervin-Gore seems to become increasingly irritated with The Pulse's questions as the interview goes on, which makes for some interesting replies.  Go read.)

Johnny Bacardi wonders what's up with the name "Shonen Jump"?  James Moar beats me to the punch in the comments thread, explaining that, short answer, that's just what the mag was called in Japan; longer answer, Japanese mags like goofy-sounded titles with one English word in it (e.g., Shonen Champion, Shonen Ace and Shonen Captain).  As for Johnny's bigger issue--why the heck is manga so popular and why doesn't he get it?--Dirk Deppey offers the start of a reply, but I'd like to suggest that Johnny has framed the matter wrong.  Manga isn't all "transformer-style robots, samurai warriors, teenage soap operas, big hyperexaggerated gladiatorial arena-fight style sagas, sometimes all at once"--heck, I don't think Shonen Jump had any "transformer-style robots" in its first twelve issues.  As Shawn Fumo proclaims tirelessly, manga is all about diversity.  We might not see all that diversity reflected in the translated manga that's made it over here so far, but even looking at the smaller pool of translated manga, there's still an amazing amount of diversity in genres.  Just look at the three manga I reviewed a couple days ago:  Bawdy comic strip humor (Crayon Shinchan); action/horror (Island); political crime thriller (Sanctuary).  If you want "transformer-style robots" and the rest, I'm sure you can find it.  But don't let those subjects blind you to everything else manga has to offer.  To do so would be equivalent to someone looking at all the superhero comics dominating a typical comics store and ignoring evidence that Fantagraphics exists.  If you're looking for recommendations, I'd suggest starting with Uzumaki (horror) or Akira (sci-fi action).  Both of these are durn-near masterpieces, and they have the added benefit of being "flipped" (they read in the familiar Western left-to-right format).  If these don't sound up your alley, let me know what your reading tastes are and I'll try to think of something more fitting.

Speaking of recommendations, yesterday I wondered what would be a good shoujo manga to start with.  Several people have offered suggestions in the comments thread, and Kiril Jones was even kind enough to include some links to reviews over at  I'm reproducing the links below in case anyone else is interested in learning about shoujo manga:
Other shoujo manga recommended were: Fushigi Yugi, Magic Knights Rayearth, Kare Kano, and Kodocha.  I'll probably research these a bit and then pick up whichever one sounds most appealing.  If I were going strictly by title, I'd probably get Please Save My Earth --it just sounds goofy, yet so polite.  Thanks to everyone for their recommendations.

UPDATE:  Kiril has also provided a helpful link listing all the manga reviews in AnimeOnDVD's manga forum:  Manga Review Thread Index.

UPDATE II:  Shaenon, who used to work for Viz, reveals that other names were bandied about for the American version of Shonen Jump, including the "blander" Manga Tsunami.  Hmm...Shaenon's right that it does sound bland.  But why does it seem so familiar?
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