I decided to read some manga in March for Nymeth's Try Something New Mini-Challenge. I'd been meaning to for awhile, and even joined Rhinoa's Manga Challenge this year, but this was just the little nudge I needed to finally get started. I was paired up with Amy, but we didn't get our act together soon enough, plus we both wanted to read different genres. So forgive me for not having a joint post, hers will be up soon I believe. Instead here are some questions, and my thoughts on the experience of trying something new.
Why had you hesitated to try this type of book before?
One of the main reasons I'd hesitated to read any manga before was because I simply didn't know where to start. There are so many manga series and all kinds of subgenres. I'd actually half-heartedly tried to read a couple of manga a while ago as a way of studying Japanese. But the only manga that I could attempt to read, because they are written more simply and with few kanji characters, are ones aimed at kids, and I just found those to be way too kawaii. My sappy-cheese metre was through the roof! However, anything written for adults was way way beyond my very limited Japanese.
Then there is the fact that I've never really been into superheroes, or bizarre, supernatural stories. It's no coincidence that most of the few graphic novels I've read are memoirs, and therefore very much based in the here and now, like Persepolis, and Maus.
I finally decided to give up the idea that I'd be able to read manga in Japanese anytime soon, but there are still quite a lot of manga that have been translated into English. How would I find a story that I'd enjoy? So I trolled online for suggestions and came up with 3 to start with.
How was it? Did you enjoy it?
The 3 different series that I tried this month were all quite different from each other. My first, and favourite, was definitely Emma, by Kaoru Mori, an Austen-esque love story with beautiful art and characters that I fell in love with. Next I read Monster by Naoki Urasawa, a serial killer thriller. I quite enjoyed the suspenseful story in this one. Last, I read the first volume of xxxHolic by Clamp, a story of a witch who grants wishes and a boy who can see evil spirits, and this one I didn't really care for.
How did it compare to your pre-conception of this type of book?
Manga often seems to be targeted to either girls/women, or boys/men. And my pre-conception, which I still haven't entirely shaken, is that the ones aimed at girls, or women tend to be very cute, cheesy love stories, and the ones aimed at boys are the superhero stuff with lots of action and violence, and the ones for men only are essentially porn. LOL. No wonder I hesitated to try manga for so long!
xxxHolic actually fit a few of my pre-conceptions of manga, with it's over-exaggerated expressions, cutesy characters, and a touch of the supernatural, and it is those elements that I didn't care for. Emma though was not at all like what I might have expected, it was just a lovely story told predominantly in pictures instead of text.
How likely are you to pick up something else by this author, or in this genre?
Well, I loved the first volume of Emma so much that I ended up reading volumes 2 to 7, the rest of the volumes in the main story, as well last month. And I plan to read the 3 companion volumes that complete the series when they are available, only volume 8 is out so far in English.
Monster is a very long series, 18 volumes in total, but I'm curious to know what happens so I'd like to try another couple to see if I am hooked enough to continue.
I would also very much like to try some other series too, and there are some that I've already made a note of. I do think I need to select somewhat carefully though, and choose storylines that I would be interested to read about in regular fiction. The art is such an integral part of manga that I have a feeling the drawing style could also sway me one way or the other.
A couple of the ones I'm tempted to try:
Vampire Knight - I'm still pretty new to vampire fiction as well but I've enjoyed what I've read so far, and this one sounds like it could be fun.
Shrine of the Morning Mist - The art looks beautiful and I'm fascinated with many aspects of traditional Japan, including shrines and Shintoism, elements of which are apparently incorporated into this story.
The Dreaming - Rhinoa's read this short series, and her reviews left me intrigued.
If you have any other suggestions for me, I would really love to hear them.
Thanks for hosting the challenge, Nymeth!