Kayarath’s Adventures in Japanamation!

Posted on Mar 22 2012

Admittedly, I’m the type of person who seeks out new and unusual things to explore. It’s amazing what you can find simply by going to different places and paying attention to what’s around you. You can just luck into stuff you had no idea existed. One such find that I unlurked was a grab bag of some older manga titles.

How I came about these items is a story in itself. Several years ago, on a trip to Ohio to attend a non-anime convention, I was waiting for my train in the city of Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania. I wandered into a comic shop and began browsing their wares in an attempt to pass the time. I noticed a copy/faxing machine there and asked the shop owner if I could use it, since I needed to fax something. He said yes so I was able to send the fax. In gratitude for honoring such an odd request, I decided to purchase something. It was the (previously mentioned) grab bag of older manga titles.

There are two interesting attributes to the grab bag as a whole. The first one is the age of the items. It seems that all of the works were published in 2002 or the 1990s. That’s a while ago by anyone’s standards and ancient if you go by the breakneck speed of the entertainment industry in general. Looking at the whole thing feels like a blast from the past. The more strange aspect is the format that they all take. All the works are from Japanese artists, but they aren’t in compilation books like you would see in any manga section at your local bookstore. It’s not in magazine format either.

This series is a Riot! Get it???

All these items were put out in the style of American comic book issues. They all have the standard dimensions of American comic books, being seventeen centimeters wide and twenty six centimeters tall (or 6 5/8” x 10 1/4”). They even have same general page count of American comic book issues. I can only assume that these items were from an earlier age of manga getting brought over to America. That would explain why all the books in the grab bag read from left to right. Perhaps they thought that the American comic book format would be best because that’s how American audiences were used to getting their comics. Unlike American comics, which are always colored, the grab bag items lacked coloring. It seems like a ripoff to buy a comic book issue and not get colored pages, but manga never gets coloring in the first place. It may seem absurd that manga was ever printed in this way, but it was. I got the books to prove it.

One third of so of the grab bag consisted of titles from the series “Riot,” a sci-fi-ish action series by Satoshi Shiki which was published by Viz Comics (they’re still going strong as Viz Media now). Apearently, it revolves around a super powerful magic book called, you guessed it, Riot. The protagonist is a young outlaw named Billy the Kid (really) who promised to protect the book in order to save his life. Of course, there are evil guys who want to use Riot to destroy the world or whatever. Honestly, I’m not really into it. Riot is the type of series that has a larger storyline that you’ll need to read from the beginning to understand. The Riot books I do have are not from the beginning, meaning I have no real idea what’s going on. I do have to commend it for it’s dramatic moments. It really doesn’t get more hardcore then a guy ripping his own eyeball out from his head!

This cover is still gorgeous!

The second group of the grab bag is from the classic tale, Nausicca of The Valley of Wind. I did not miss the second “the” of the title! That is what the title actually is. It must have been from one of the earlier translations. I can’t blame them for picking the works of Hayao Miyazaki to bring to America. If you can get the best; then get the best! Due to the fact that one of the books has the same page count as the other two combined, I can only conclude that there must have been multiple printings of Nausicca. I never really looked into the three issues in depth. If I’m going to read Nausicca, I’m going to go read the latest version. I bet it’ll be better translated anyway. The art is still great though. The books are worth keeping for the covers alone. Maybe I’ll cut out some of the textless pictures and use them to decorate a notebook or something.

The last two issues from the grab bag are from “Saint Tail” by Megumi Tachikawa. It’s a shoujo series published by Tokyopop of all companies! I herd they’re doing a newsletter these days. It’s about a young female thief named Meimi who donnes the identity “Saint Tail” and uses her magic to help people in trouble. Her counter part/romantic interest is one Asuka Jr., the son of a famous detective. The dramatic tension come from the people who require Saint Tail’s aid as well as Meimi’s internal struggle between the need to keep her identity secret versus her desire to confess her love to Asuka Jr., who is always trying to capture Saint Tail.

Lord, forgive me for the tricks up my sleeve. One, Two, Three!

I did enjoy reading the two issues of Saint Tail that came with the grab bag. Character focused light hearted mischief with a dash of magic always appeals to me! The cuteness of the art in general is a big plus to me as well. The issues were largely episodic so I got a complete story and wasn’t lost because I didn’t read the previous issues. Sadly, it seems time wasn’t kind to those books because it seems that the ink is fading, weakening the pretty art a great deal.

I actually like Saint Tail so much, I considered getting the whole series for “review” purposes. Since the series came out a decade ago, it’s a bit of a challenge to find. Some searching showed me that there are copies, but I would have to go through a bookstore with an online store front. I’m not comfortable doing that yet but I may be in the future. Maybe I’ll have better luck getting the anime? Saint Tail was made into an anime and it was sold in the US with a dub and everything! I’m sure I can get my hands on Saint Tail in some form once I put my mind to it.

I hope you all put yourselves into new situations once and while. It can be quite uncomfortable but it’s also an opportunity to discover new things you didn’t know you liked! Simply by being receptive, you can uncover all sorts of stuff! I bet many of you discovered anime, manga, and The Fan simply by being at the right place at the right time! You won’t get there, however, unless you put yourself out there first!

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  • Kanashimi March 22, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    I love Saint Tail, what a classic 😀

  • Tyto March 23, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    I have some old DarkHorse manga from the 80s and 90s like this too. An issue #1 of Golgo13, #1 of Captain Harlock, #1 of Ghost in the Shell, and #2 of Return of the Jedi.

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