Taking stock and giving thanks
I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to contribute to this month's Manga Movable Feast, hosted by Matt Blind over at Rocket Bomber. It was the same problem that doomed my participation in last month's MMF: too much stuff to deal with in life outside of Otaku Ohana, not enough time to sit down and commit some thoughts to pixels. Last month, it was the ramp-up to the general election that kept me busy. This month? It was preparing for that garage sale with tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. that I noted in my last post.
So I was pleasantly surprised to fire up Haruhi after the sale was over on Sunday -- yes, if you remember a post from aaaaaallllll the way back in 2009, my home computer is still named Haruhi and my laptop is still named Yuki, although my iPad has inherited the name "Mikuru" -- and find that Matt had delayed his wrap-up post for this month's MMF to today and tweeted his intent to still accept links for it.
And then that wrap-up post went up while I was working on the post this morning. But dagnabbit, I'd already written 700+ words at that point. I wasn't abandoning this post that easily.
Besides, this month's topic is so intriguing: Rather than focusing on a single title, author or genre as it has in the past, the bloggerati were asked to take inventory of their manga blessings in this, the season of camping out in line for five days to buy a $199 50-inch flat-screen TV giving thanks. Check out his call for participation to see the inspirations we were given.
I meditated for a little while on what I've been thankful for in the world of manga. Those meditations, however, kept getting interrupted by thoughts about this one particular young woman who showed up toward the beginning of our sale. She was excited to be there. Virtually bouncing up and down. She dropped a bunch of money on a replica animation cel of Hitsugaya from Bleach, a few more dollars on Ranma 1/2 wall scrolls and an old Inu-Yasha bag and other stuff, then she came back with her friend and ended up buying a Vampire Knight journal and a pack of Bleach cards. Incredibly enthusiastic about the stuff she was buying, for certain. Heck, she even showed me a few volumes of Kare Kano -- already tucked into said Inu-Yasha bag -- that she had checked out from the library.
I love seeing fans like that. Reminds me of the enthusiasm I had when I first really got into manga in the late '90s. Sure, I'm older now. Saw the rise and fall of Tokyopop and a bunch of other publishers, had several favorite series canceled on me before they were finished (hello, Nodame Cantabile and Moyashimon, may you return to our shores someday), looked on as publishers' bottom lines have been ravaged by scanlation sites all over the Internet and the Borders shutdown. I'd be lying if I said all of this, plus the constant harping about problems with this publisher and that publisher and the publisher over there and so forth and so on, hasn't dampened my spirits over the years.
All things considered, though? I'm thankful that the manga publishers that remain in the domestic market continue to believe that there are those enthusiastic fans out there. And that those publishers keep bringing over new series that they hope will garner the same amount of enthusiasm on the market as there was when the negotiations to license those series took place. There's always that little thrill I feel whenever a convention rolls around, and a news item pops up on Twitter or Anime News Network or somewhere that "Publisher A has licensed this, this and this," and there's something in that list that sounds interesting enough for me to give it a shot when it finally shows up. And that publishers are willing to try new ways of getting manga out to the masses -- I really want JManga's digital-distribution model to succeed. I want publishers like Viz, Yen Press and Dark Horse to do well with their digital initiatives. I'm hoping that Digital Manga Publishing's temporary suspension of print publication doesn't end up hurting them in the long run, because they've seemed willing to try new things, like using Kickstarter for niche Tezuka titles to complement their print and digital offerings.
But above all, I'm thankful for the eternal hope of second chances. When you've seen as much manga as I have over the years, and when you've seen some of the really good series eventually start to fade out of print, it's really nice to know that there are people making decisions for those publishers who think, "You know, that series did well for someone else, but it's no longer around for whatever reason, so let's bring it back." JManga has a bunch of niche titles from the days of Aurora, Del Rey, Go!Comi and other such publishers that don't exist in those forms today. Kodansha's redoing Sailor Moon and Love Hina. Much of CLAMP's body of work is seeing new life in Dark Horse omnibus volumes. Blood Alone and Gunslinger Girl sailed back with Seven Seas. Viz has 07-Ghost and Loveless. Vertical brought Paradise Kiss and Message to Adolf back into print. I mean, Message to Adolf! We hadn't seen an English translation of that in more than 15 years, and those Cadence-published books were long out of print and nigh impossible to find! It keeps hope alive that a new group of fans can enjoy in the present what we long-time fans may have enjoyed in the past.
While this post has focused primarily on manga, keep in mind that what I've written applies to the anime industry as well. Recently, I received in the mail from Funimation the review DVDs for their reissued edition of Serial Experiments Lain. Lain, believe it or not, was the first anime I ever watched that I recognized formally as anime all the way back in 2000. Here's the profile that I wrote about it in 2009. Seeing those discs in the envelope gave me a bit of a thrill. Maybe I'll watch those again sometime when I have free time (which, as I've probably said before, has been distressingly sparse of late, but I'll try).
The joys of being an anime and manga fan.
That's what I'm thankful for, too.