Diving into Manga: The Complete Guide by Jason Thompson

Title:  Manga: The Complete Guide

Author:  Jason Thompson

Publisher:  Del Rey

ISBN:  9780345485908

When I first heard about this book, I was a little skeptical about how useful a manga guide would be.  The industry is changing constantly, and books are just flooding the market.  I thought that the guide would soon loose its relevance and become quickly out-dated.  While that fear is still valid, there are tons of titles in this edition to keep you busy until another volume hits the streets.  This is a must have for aspiring manga maniacs. 

The book includes some well-written and informative articles that highlight the many genres of Japanese comics.  Pets, Sci-Fi, Horror; the list seems endless, as are the examples in each section.  A series I’d love to see licensed, Jaja Uma Grooming Up! (Grooming up a Wild Horse!) was mentioned, but another, Piku Piku Sentaro, was not.  Unlicensed and untranslated titles are only covered in the articles, and give us all fodder to pester the publishers with.  “Please licenses so and so!”  Yup, you could use this book to find hundreds of titles that you want to read, but can’t because they aren’t licensed.   Yet.

There’s a nice yaoi/BL section near the end, but I was disappointed that so many titles weren’t reviewed.  Since the yaoi section of most publishers got relegated to the Adult Previews, it’s been a little difficult for me to keep up on newer releases, so the comprehensive listing is still useful for me.  In fact, I feel a little overwhelmed when I realize how sparse my BL collection is, and since the pubs are just getting ramped up on their releases, there’s a ton of stuff that isn’t even mentioned.  Hopefully there’ll be a Volume 2?

I like the artist index at the back of the book, which includes titles of their works and, if available, artist websites.  There’s a section introducing the Japanese language and all of its writing systems, and I wonder, again, how the Japanese ever learn to read!  I had a flashback to my Japanese language studies and the mountain of flashcards that were strewn about the house.  Thanks to the efforts of people like the author, I was able to pack away my cards, and can now enjoy my manga in English.

I’m so impressed with Manga: The Complete that I cleaned off a spot on the computer desk so it’s close at hand when I need another title to hit the free shipping threshold at Amazon.  I may not always agree with the reviews (only 2.5 stars for Nari Kusakawa’s The Recipe for Gertrude?), but it’s fun seeing what other people think about books I loved – and hated.  Though now I am a living in fear that the book and all of its 900 pages will fall off the shelf and land on my head.


Review copy provided by Del Rey