Sporadic Sequential
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Manga MIA

Over at MangaCast, Ed Chavez has compiled a handy list of manga that have vanished off the face of the earth. There are several series that I'd love to see start up again on that list:

Yotsuba&! - I'll just get in line along with everyone else in the blogosphere waiting for this wonderful series to return...

Club 9 - Oh, how I'd love to see this series completed! Ed noted that four volumes were published by Dark Horse but I believe only three actually saw print. I wonder what the chances are of Dark Horse ever putting out the final two books? Otherwise I'll have to start a back issue search for those later issues of Super Manga Blast!, where Club 9 did reach its conclusion.

Museum of Terror - A recent cancellation, this is one that puzzles me. Dark Horse released the first three volumes of this series so closely together (July, September, and November of 2006) that it may have been a little too much for fans to pick up all at once, so I'm wondering how Dark Horse gauged sales on this series. Over on the Dark Horse boards, fans are wondering if price killed the series. I doubt that this was the case, since more expensive manga from Dark Horse and other publishers manage to find an audience. Plus, the Museum of Terror books were actually quite the bargain as they were about twice the length of a "standard" manga for only $4 more. Like others, I think Dark Horse didn't do much to promote these books. Many fans (myself included) were confused about what was contained in these collections; it would have been nice if Dark Horse had listed out the actual story contents so that customers would know if they'd read the material elsewhere before. (Personally, I think another part of the problem was the dull covers. I'm assuming Dark Horse was working with the covers from the Japanese editions, but the artwork on these books didn't do much to sell the books at all, and they hardly conveyed the notion that these books contained some of the most disturbing horror stories ever done in comics.) So, yeah, like others, I'm disappointed that we won't be getting any future volumes from this series, especially now that I find out that there were seven other volumes out there!

And this is beyond the purview of Ed's list (he was only considering manga on hiatus from active publishers, not dead manga from defunct publishers), but where in the hell is my Slam Dunk, goddammit? I thought I'd read a rumor somewhere that Viz was picking up the license from Gutsoon. Anyone know anything about this? Anyone? OK, OK, I can google it myself I suppose. According to Anime News Network,
The editorial section of Viz's first issue of Shojo Beat states that the Slam Dunk manga, previously published by Gutsoon! will be coming soon. The magazine does not explicitly state what company will be releasing Slam Dunk.
And sure enough, right there on page 282 of the first issue of Shojo Beat (July 2005), is this bit of frustratingly vague news:
These days, you can take your pick of sports in shonen manga, including Tennis (The Prince of Tennis), soccer (Whistle!), football (Eyeshield 21), and — coming soon — basketball (Slamdunk [sic]).
As Anime News Network noted, there is no explicit word on who the publisher will be, but I'm assuming it must be Viz since (1) all the other sports manga in that example are from Viz and (2) Viz would only know if a given manga title were coming out soon if they were the ones who had the rights to it. Still, that announcement was almost two years ago now and there's still no Slam Dunk out! I hardly call that "coming soon," Viz. When will I be able to read about Sakuragi's delightful antics again?

Following up on a rumor reported by Heidi MacDonald that Borders is cutting back on the amount of manga they carry now that Kurt Hassler is no longer their graphic novels buyer, commenters at MangaBlog give their impressions on how well-stocked the manga sections are at their local Borders and Barnes & Nobles. (Back in the comments at Heidi's blog, commenters seem to be reveling in the idea that manga publishers might be "feeling the pinch" lately.)

The general consensus seems to be that while Barnes & Noble might have more shelf space dedicated to manga, Borders still carries a deeper selection of smaller, quirkier titles. I generally buy my comics online, but when I have browsed through the graphic novels sections of my local bookstores, I have noticed that Borders tends to offer a wider variety of harder-to-find manga books, including several "art of" books. I also know that if I really want to find a particular volume of a manga series, my best bet is to hit the Barnes & Noble at the Mall of America, which seems to fit the observation over at Precocious Curmudgeon that stores in areas frequented by teens are more likely to have larger manga offerings.

Finally, in his latest Flipped column, David Welsh is moved by the end of Love Roma to reflect on ongoing manga series that he's still enjoying a great deal. To make things more challenging, he only considers series that have at least two volumes under their belt (thus eliminating new manga like Mushishi and To Terra) but not more than five (thereby ruling out favorites of mine like Sgt. Frog, Death Note, and Bleach). It's a tricky exercise. Of course David — manga omnivore that he is — easily comes up with a list of ten favorites, but I could only come up with one that meets his criteria: Dragon Head, which is on David's list as well. (I suppose The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service — also on David's list — could fit the bill, but I haven't read the second volume yet.)

Perhaps I've been growing a bit complacent in my manga reading, then, and it's time to broaden my horizons. And David's list looks like a good place to start. I've certainly been hearing a lot of good things about Emma, so I'll plan on checking that out. Heck, I might even flip through another volume of The Drifting Classroom (from the library, of course). Now that I know what I'm in for, perhaps the camp appeal of the book will outweigh its distracting storytelling tics.

One thing is for sure, though: Man, am I going to miss Love Roma. It's a strange thing, having grown up reading superhero comics and being conditioned to expect them to go on forever, finding out that one of your favorite series is ending just like that (and so relatively young!) Still, it's certainly preferable to having some other creator come in and force his take upon the book. Love Roma ended on a high note (and a bit of a bittersweet one at that), but it was perfectly consistent with everything that came beforehand. (In an embarrassing bit of nerd over-involvement, after finishing the final volume I found myself second-guessing a character's actions. "How could X do that without consulting Y???" I fumed. But then I calmed down and thought about it a bit more and realized that X's actions were entirely in keeping with X's character, and that there had been mentions in earlier volumes of X planning what X ended up doing, so I was probably just dealing with my disappointment over the series ending poorly. And, having moved past the other stages of grief, I realized that the final volume of Love Roma had managed to surprise me with its ending despite the apparent spoiler of the cover, all while remaining true to its characters. And in an age where almost everything is spoiled online months before it comes out, and characters are made to do out-of-character things simply to hammer home "shocking" plot points, that's a pretty impressive achievement. So hats off to you, Love Roma! You went out in style!!)

Hmm... now all of this has me thinking: I wonder if I could come up with a top ten list of completed manga? Love Roma, Akira, Nausicaa... What other completed manga (that don't span too many volumes) are worth recommending?