Things have been quiet on this blog, but this month’s Manga Moveable Feast has nudged my lazyass brain enough to make me want to contribute. Hosting this month is @ProfessorBlind over at Rocket Bomber. I’m usually talking to him about food and beer or remembering “fondly” my old indie bookstore days. Currently, I am inspiring him to write an super unhealthy cookbook which will sell a billion copies during Father’s Day.
Anyway, the subject for today is Appetizers Wednesday–”The Manga My Best Friend Lent Me That Got Me Into Manga.” And seriously, just now I was going to be all, “ha, I got into manga on my own,” when my creaky memory was all, “Nope, nope.”
Around 1996, I started watching anime. My roommate brought home some Ranma 1/2 fansubs, and I recognized the characters from a video game my sister’s boyfriend had showed me. I watched all the tapes my roomie brought home, then went out and started buying them myself. Anime was EXPENSIVE back then, $30 for 3 subbed episodes on VHS. So after I bought the first season, I stopped because really, it was too freaking expensive. I also didn’t know where to proceed from here after that, so my interest got put on hold.
In 2001, my coworker’s girlfriend, Angela, rekindled the fire. She was the biggest Sailor Moon fangirl (she would dress up as Sailor Jupiter, and it was quite fitting, since she was a tall, lanky brunette), and she absolutely loved pretty anime boys. She introduced me to Fushigi Yuugi and it was amazing–ok, it’s not so amazing now, but back then it was a revelation. Who knew that animated men could be so dreamy? Angela also lent me her Sailor Moon manga (this is the part I forgot; I remembered her getting me interested in anime again). After reading a few volumes, I went out and bought my own copies. Then I bought Cardcaptor Sakura. Then I bought Sorcerer Hunters and started the Fushigi Yuugi manga… and it snowballed from there. Now I have shelves and shelves of manga, double stacked, piled on top, overflowing onto the floor in front of the cases, heaped in several precarious piles around my bed, and stacked on the bedside table threatening to fall over as I grope for the alarm clock. Have you seen Read or Die, the OVA? My bedroom looks like Yomiko’s house.
But back to Sailor Moon. I already had almost a decade of reading superhero comics off and on (mostly X-Men and Incredible Hulk) under my belt. I was sort of stuck in that mentality where I only wanted to read superhero comics because indie comics were weird looking and strange (I’ve gotten over that, thankfully). Sailor Moon though was… beautiful. I loved the flowing hair, the shining huge eyes, and the girly silliness of Usagi (Serena according to the Tokyopop translations… blehhhh). It was over the top and fun and wonderful and romantic, and I MUST READ IT ALL AND OWN IT. (I tend to get fixated on things… *cough*). So I did, and then after I started watching the Cardcaptor Sakura anime, I went out and bought the CCS manga. Same with Sorcerer Hunters. Actually much of my early manga purchasing (with the exception of Sailor Moon; I couldn’t get into the anime–reading melodrama is different from watching it, plus the manga was 10000x prettier) was from anime that I watched to see how the manga differed.
I’m not really sure why I liked Sailor Moon so much. I’m by no means a girly-girl at all. I’ve always preferred “boys'” cartoons and “boys'” toys. I do have a pretty huge soft spot for mushy romances though, so maybe that was it. Or maybe it was the novelty of reading a comic book that was written so obviously for girls with romance and hearts and sparkles, yet still full of action and fighting and kick-assness. It’s something you don’t really get in mainstream superhero comics. There’s a severe lack of sparkles, unless you’re Dazzler or Jubilee.
I eventually lost touch with Angela, but many of my current friends share my anime/manga interests and we are fairly generous when it comes to lending our stuff out (provided you listen to my rules as I am OCD when it comes to my books and DVDs–no spine breaking, no dog earing, no fingerprinting my discs, no leaving discs lying around–I will hurt you). I especially love it when I can get my friends interested in something they weren’t before; it is a very good feeling. It’s also very cool to get someone who doesn’t read manga into reading manga, even if it’s just one title (this just happened with two friends and Drops of God).
So to my past manga friend Angela, and my current manga friends Shaz, Alyse, and Greg, I am thankful. I am also thankful to my wonderful manga-loving twitterfeed which gives me so many good suggestions. And thank you Naoko Takeuchi, mangaka of Sailor Moon, for your beautiful art and fun stories and starting my trip into the black hole of the manga world.
Moon Prism Power, Make Up!
p.s.: Tokyopop’s flipped, cheaply printed Americanized editions have long been out of print, but Kodansha’s been putting out newly translated, unflipped editions recently, so you can easily get copies at Right Stuf, etc.