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New Year's Resolutions for the Manga Community

Changes I'd like to see in the manga community next year

With the new year fast approaching, it's time to bust out everyone's favorite holiday tradition...New Year's Resolutions. I have my personal manga resolutions, but there are changes I'd like to see in the manga (and anime) community at large. So without further ado, here are the changes I'd like to see next year!

Winnie the Pooh meme
This is Winnie the Pooh btw.

1. Give me the Sauce!

Hey, I know SauceNao and Google Reverse Image Search exists, but it would be awesome and super easy, barely an inconvenience if you'd just tell me the name of the manga you're talking about. If you're sharing a manga panel, manga volume in Japanese, official illustrations from the mangaka, etc., give me the sauce. Give me the name of the manga. It can be in Japanese (as romanji) or English or hell, both. It can be listed in the alt tags (ex. Twitter), the post itself, comments, follow-up posts (ex: Twitter threads), or hashtags. Just make it easy and accessible for your audience and me. Do you want someone to read the manga you're raving about? Give them the sauce.

I don't care if the manga is a "classic," has been referenced in other manga, has inspired an official music video collaboration with Nora Jones, has an anime adaptation, and has been around since 1980. (Answer: Maison Ikkoku.) Not everyone reads the same things. Not everyone has read the adventure, romance, or thriller manga you're talking about. Not everyone has read the popular trending manga of the year or decade. If you're wondering who hasn't read Chainsaw Man, Blue Lock, or Jujutsu Kaisen in the Year of our Lord 2022, that would be me. Hi. Assume you're labeling the manga for me as I have terrible taste.

Furthermore, if you're thinking people will ask you, nay, demand the sauce from you if they're truly interested, you're dead wrong. So many people passively go to Reddit or elsewhere to ask other people the question, "What manga is this?" Doubly annoying when it's a TikTok screenshot with the creator's original name clearly visible. For whatever reason, people are gun-shy about asking the original poster, "What manga is this?" Not me. I'm just f*cking lazy. If you're not going to tell me what the manga is somewhere within the post, then I'm just going to keep scrolling. I have more than enough manga to read.

2. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Italian-printed manga

If I had to sum up this bullet point, it would be, "Stop complaining about the 'quality' of your $10/volume manga and f*cking read it!" It baffles me that people would ask about VIZ (or Yen Press, etc.) manga printed in a different country and what the quality is like. Usually, this is aimed at VIZ as they have noticeably outsourced their printing to other countries because, ya know, the pandemic. They have the lion's share of popular manga, and because it's selling like hotcakes (and the pandemic), they can't keep up with the demand. Unfortunately, I can't tell you the difference between a Canadian-printed VIZ title from an Italian-printed VIZ title. I couldn't tell which is which from looking at a picture online or even looking at my shelf. I'd only know if I bother to look at the credits page, but I'm too busy reading the manga for the story and art to care about that.

Skip Beat v. 1-46 manga books, mixture of used, new, and ex-library copies sitting on a white shelf
IDGAF. I really don't. Not when cheap manga is involved.

However, I can tell you or discern the difference between editions, like Naruto single volumes and Naruto omnibus volumes for example. The omnibus volumes are made to be cheap. Buying one omnibus of Naruto at MSRP will save you half the cost of buying 3 single volumes at MSRP. You can save more money if you purchase the omnibus editions while they are on sale. The lack of paper quality found in the omnibus editions can be forgiven when you account for the price. (Naruto gif incoming!)

At any rate, energy would be better spent on familiarizing yourself with the mangaka or the translation team. You know, things that would actually affect you reading the material. Unless your manga is wholly unreadable due to a major misprint, then STFU and read it. In case your manga is affected by a major misprint, return it to the store immediately. Don't ask the internet if you should return it, just do it.

If the manga "quality" bothers you, then your only recourse is to shop in-store. If you still can't stomach the "quality" of the manga you're purchasing physically, then maybe invest in an e-reader, a subscription service, borrow digitally/physically from your local library, become fluent in Japanese or another language, or pirate. I don't care. I just don't want to hear you complain about something so trivial, especially since the publishers will do 0 things about it because we have no other choice. You can't go get Spy x Family printed in English from another company. That's just not a thing. Then again, having exclusivity makes bootleg manga easy to spot. Because yeah, that's a thing.

Reddit post says, "I finally got them all delivered today!" Shows a hand holding up Spy x Family manga v. 1-10; the spines display TR Media, a bootleg manga publishing company and seller on EBay
TR Media is a bootleg company.
TR Media bootleg manga listing on EBAY
As seen on eBay. A lot wrong with this listing, price included.

PSA—No voice actor, mangaka, etc. will sign your bootleg manga copies (or bootleg anything for that matter). So, the only use a bootleg manga has is, well, reading it. You can't sell it as that would be illegal and get you in hot water if caught, and your only customers will be uninformed people and newbies. In the end, bootlegs are more headaches than they are worth.

Reddit post says "So I'm never ordering a book from Amazon again if I can help it. the pouch is Amazon's method and the box is rightstufanime. not a scratch on rightstuffs. Amazon has dings and slight damage."
If you squint, you can see the dings.

Likewise, stop complaining about normal wear and tear issues like small dings, bent cover corners, and yellowed pages. I'm always amazed that people can bring home books straight from the store without issue. Me? I'm not so lucky. I've had so many mishaps bringing home manga from the store, from creating a permanent crease on the cover to accidentally getting water all over my brand-new copy. (Don't worry. I saved it. It's still readable.) I move apartments every so often, and I've had moving mishaps like accidentally slicing my book with a boxcutter. Maybe it's because I'm so accident-prone that getting books slightly dinged in the mail doesn't really phase me. As long as the book doesn't show up chewed by a dog or way outside the expected conditions set forth by the seller, then it's all good.

Reddit screenshot says, "Safely brining manga to school." User asks how to prevent damages in bringing manga to school.

Moving on, it would be nice if people learn basic science. You live on a planet full of oxygen (for now anyway). Paper will oxidize and eventually disintegrate over time. The least you can do is avoid humidity and places where moisture and water will naturally gather like attics, basements, and garages. Store your books upright on a sturdy bookshelf. Finally, avoid direct sunlight. That's basically it, and all you can do.

I hate to break it to you, but your manga volume isn't supposed to be preserved in a glass case like it's on display at The Getty. Manga books are supposed to be taken out and read. So don't be afraid to take your copy to the beach, to school, or wherever. Don't be afraid to live. I mean, sure, take good care of your books as humanly possible, but don't get so worked up over having books in "near-mint," perfect condition.

Reddit post say, "I bought these second hand and the seller didn't mention the bad yellowing so I spent an hour trying to remove it with sandpaper, I'm pretty pleased with the results!"

Finally, it amazes me the lengths people will go to "preserve" and "restore" manga by shaving off the "yellow" with sandpaper (as if it's not going to come back with time) or removing ex-library stickers from books. Especially ex-library books. You can remove the outside markings, but the inside markings will remain the same. Ex-library books are the worst-used copies available. They are well-loved readable and cheap copies at very the least. Why put in the effort to make them pretty? For Instagram? That's what Photoshop, Canva, creative camera angles, lighting, and filters are for! Save the extra time for reading your spoils.

Bernie Sanders "Once again asking" meme; text says, "I am once again asking you to read shoujo."

3. The Year of Shoujo

With all of the new shoujo and josei manga and anime coming our way next year, including some stealth titles like King in Limbo by Ai Tanaka, I would hope 2023 is the Year of Shoujo. As I ranted about here, shounen/seinen readers, readers who solely focus on works made for boys and men, don't read a lot of works aimed at girls (shoujo) and women (josei).

However, shoujo/josei readers read manga aimed at girls, women, boys, men—everyone. They read all sorts of works. They somehow manage to read works not intended for them and are able to enjoy them. It would be nice if shounen/seinen readers can do the same and avoid such terrible takes about female characters and the female demographic online and off.

Demographics are determined by the magazine the manga runs in, and each magazine has its own audience and "vibe," which explains how "mature" and dark series like Death Note ends up being labeled a shounen manga. Demographics aren't genres. Shoujo and josei aren't only limited to romance just like shounen isn't limited to action and Kamehameha-ing people into next week.

Here are some more recommendations to help get you reading shoujo and josei in 2023. If you enjoy action, check out series like Yona of the Dawn and X. Read award-winning manga if you care about quality or prestige. Award-winning works include In the Clear Moonlit Dusk, Life Lessons with Uramichi Onii-san, Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist's Journey, My Girlfriend's Child, Though I Am an Inept Villainess: Tale of the Butterfly-Rat Body Swap in the Maiden Court, Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, and A Sign of Affection. If you're looking for LGBTQ+ works, check out Run Away with Me, Girl!, My Love Mix-Up!, Savage Garden, Is Love the Answer?, and Kase-san and Yamada.

If you want to read the best-selling shoujo and josei series of all time, check out this wiki. Series include Boys Over Flowers, Nana, Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Nodame Cantabile, and Chihayafuru. If you're a fan of old manga, like from the 70s and 80s, check out series like Claudine and Rose of Versailles. Finally, if you're looking for the recently licensed manga coming our way right now, you might want to check out this list. Series include I Want to be a Wall, Mermaid Scales and the Town of Sand, and Star Clock Liddell.

Speaking of recent manga...

manga sitting on a white shelf

4. Focus on Today's Manga

Much can be said about out-of-print manga. It sucks when manga goes out of print, but the market for it sucks even more (and harder). Anime Collective has created an excellent guide about out-of-print manga so I won't hash it out here. I don't have the patience nor all the Tylenol in the world for that discussion right now. (Cue the Christmas Vacation movie reference.)

Instead, I'd like to focus on the manga that's being released today and in the near future. The manga that's readily in print today will be the out-of-print manga tomorrow after all. It's best to support the series that you care for or want to buy in a timely fashion, especially if you have limited time and money. If you can't afford it now, consider asking your local library to buy the series for you.

There are over 200 new titles released in English this past year, and that's only counting the big four publishers Yen Press, Seven Seas, Kodansha, and VIZ. Over 200 volume 1's for series that have never been published in English before. 🤯 Furthermore, that number mostly includes titles available in print. If I included the new releases from the other publishers (Denpa, Glacier Bay Books, Star Fruit Books, Tokyopop, Square Enix, E-Manga & its family of imprints, J-Novel Club, Kaiten Books, Hanashi Media, Dark Horse, etc.) and various legal digital subscription services (MangaPlus, MangaPlaza, Futekiya, Coolmic, WEBTOON, VIZ app, Mangamo, Coamix Manga Hot app, MangaUp!, Azuki, Manga Planet, Pocket Comics, etc.) out there, that number would be even higher. With the series released this year plus the series next year, it would be impossible for you not to find anything currently releasing to read today.

So, I challenge the manga community to focus on the manga we currently have, and let the out-of-print and scalper market cool down a little or better yet collapse.

Not my favorite En Vogue song, but I needed something succinct here.

5. Expand Your Reading Experience

I suppose I'm cheating a little bit as points #3 and #4 can be filed under this bullet point. The point is to challenge yourself as a reader and to expand your reading experience in a meaningful way and positive direction. To find new manga, you don't need to come up with wacky ideas like closing your eyes and picking a random book off of Barnes & Noble's shelf or picking a random manga out of a hat. Referencing point #3, you can take a good look at what's on your shelf right now. How many shoujo or josei titles do you have?

Reddit screenshot of mangacollector's post

If your collection looks like the above picture, it's safe to say that you don't have enough shoujo or josei manga in your life. I'm not talking about romance. I'm not talking about high school romance. Go find some action, mystery, thriller, drama, etc. shoujo (or josei) manga to read. And, fine, romance too, if you're into it. Moving on to reference point #4. You can focus on and research the manga that's being released today and next year. I'd especially appreciate it if you'd do point #3 because interactions like below make me want to

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ (flip tables).

Twitter interaction between That Manga Hunter and Redacted user

(Fellas, you can enjoy romance too. Take it from these bros.)

Is this a pigeon meme
"No," courtesy of that guy from The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird. (After the Rain and Kowloon Generic Romance are seinen manga.)

Besides demographics and recent manga, you can go through a mangaka's catalog. Did you enjoy Erased by Kei Sanbe, New York, New York by Marimo Ragawa, Monster by Naoki Urasawa, What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga, Even Though We're Adults by Takako Shimura, Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino, The Water Dragon's Bride by Rei Toma, or Dengeki Daisy by Kyousuke Motomi? Well, you're in luck because they have other works licensed in English. You'll have tons to comb through if you especially enjoy Naoki Urasawa and Fumi Yoshinaga's work. Some mangaka like Clamp, Fumi Yoshinaga, and Natsume Ono writes across genres, themes, and demographics which makes challenging yourself and expanding your tastes even easier.

The Vampire and His Pleasant Companion manga panels
The Vampire and His Pleasant Companion by Marimo Ragawa

Do you find yourself saying things like, "They don't make [insert X] like they used to anymore."? Do you find yourself getting bored with action battle manga or [insert theme, topic, or genre]? Is the manga you read 5-10 years ago, just not hitting you in the feels anymore? Chances are it's time for a change because you have changed. Nothing is funnier (and sadder) than reading manga reviews for older series like this one for Hot Gimmick by Miki Aihara. screenshot; user reviews the manga Hot Gimmick

Keywords from this review are contained within the first few sentences:

I remember reading this manga all the way through back in like my freshman year of high school (so nearly five years ago now) and I remember adoring it. Reading it again now... I just can't get into it.

This person read this manga back in 2010 and loved it, but upon re-reading the manga and leaving a review for it in 2015, they discovered that they don't love Hot Gimmick anymore. Why? Maybe because they changed as a person. Not their media literacy and critical thinking skills, unfortunately, but their taste in manga series has changed, and they somehow didn't take that into account upon reading the material again. What made them fall in love with the manga in the first place? What isn't working for them right now? Even if the manga sucked then and sucks now, well, why didn't the user figure that out the first time around?

Lastly, I can't belabor this point enough, but posts that conflate a demographic with a genre make me want to scream and throw things. (Sidebar—U.S. publishers do it too, but their goal is to sell you the books, come hell or high water, and they have a sucky selection and perception of what shoujo and josei are and can be.) Users that can't recognize they have been consuming one type of theme and genre of high school romance rather than branching out. Users that think they have "high standards." Make me want to laugh and cry in frustration. Case in point:

Reddit post asks "Anyone else struggles to enjoy shoujo at an older age? Highlighted portion
Do you guys grow out of shounen manga?

Let's make 2023 the year we collectively expand our tastes in manga, beef up our media literacy, and develop critical thinking skills. Let's challenge ourselves and expand our experience with manga.

Serial Experiment Lain

6. Don't Underestimate Digital

Last, but not least, don't underestimate digital manga. You don't have to like digital manga, but I think writing it off completely is a mistake. Whether you like it or not, digital-first and digital-only publishing is here to stay. Kodansha isn't the only publisher regularly bringing us digital manga anymore. VIZ has been releasing some titles exclusively as e-books too, mostly Shonen Jump titles are not worth the cheap-a$$ paper it's printed on apparently.

Additionally, there are BL publishers like ShuCream and Animate International and dojin and indie publishers like Rotten Blossoms and Irodori Comics. Some of this manga will find its way to print. Nina the Starry Bride, Twilight Out of Focus, PSTD Radio, Tokyo Revengers, Blue Lock, and In The Clear Moonlit Dusk, all published by Kodansha, certainly did, but not every title will be so lucky.

Hotaru's Way manga page
Hotaru's Way by Satoru Hiura (Kodansha). Doubt this one will ever make it out of digital jail.

Subscription-wise, there are several places where you can read manga legally online or via an app, and Yattatachi has the list. We lost Copin Comics and Izneo this year, but we gained MangaPlaza and MangaUp! (Square Enix). Azuki, Comikey, AlphaManga, MangaHot (Coamix), and MangaFlip came online last year or within the past few years so it's not a stretch to say that we'll see more apps (and possibly closings) in the near future. Manga has never been so readily available and accessible to a wide range of people before now!

The cheapest services go to the VIZ Manga Shounen Jump app and Shueisha's MangaPlus app. For $2.99/mo, you can read a lot of series in the Shonen Jump catalog and read simulpub chapters via the VIZ app. On the other hand, MangaPlus offers a few free-to-read series like Ron Kamonohashi: Deranged Detective (as of this post anyway), and the last three chapters are always free-to-read.

Me, My Husband & My Husband's Boyfriend manga panel
Me, My Husband & My Husband's Boyfriend by Ayano Ayano (MangaPlaza)

However, if you enjoy manga outside of the Shonen Jump catalog, it may be a struggle, to put it mildly. Finding the right website and app becomes an exercise in figuring out which services exclusively have the manga you want to enjoy. Each service has its pros and cons, but it really comes down to that exclusive title as manga (Kodansha published manga being an exception) aren't readily shared or available cross-platform. 😑

Still, digital manga is a great option if you don't have a lot of disposable income. Not to mention that there are a lot of hidden gems and interesting manga to read! Go exploring!

That's All!

So, there you have it. Those are the wishes I have for next year, and let's face it, the year after that. What are your wishes for the manga community? Do you have any resolutions for yourself? Let me know via the comments below (if I ever get them to work properly) or via Twitter @ThatMangaHunter. (Princess Jellyfish gif incoming!)

Wishing you a Happy New Year & a happy year of reading!

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