19 Jan, 2010

Manga Recon Roundtable: Manga Gift-Giving

By: Michelle Smith, Sam Kusek, Melinda Beasi, Ken Haley, Jennifer Dunbar, Isaac Hale, Grant Goodman, Erin Finnegan and Connie C.

In this edition of the Manga Recon Roundtable, we begin by talking about manga gift-giving and eventually segue to our family’s perceptions of manga, with some amusing results!

MICHELLE:
Now that we’ve had sufficient time to recover from the holidays, but not yet consign them to the distant past, it seemed like a timely moment to pose the following question for roundtable discussion:

Did you receive any gifts of manga this holiday season? And, if so, what?

MELINDA:
What a fun topic, Michelle!

My manga haul was pretty robust, though perhaps not as exciting to others as it is to me, since they were mainly aimed at filling in holes in my collection rather than providing me with anything genuinely new.

My in-laws (to whom I think manga is fairly baffling) went all out, gifting me with volumes five and six of CMX’s cracktastic shojo series, Moon Child, as well as all six available volumes of Kazuya Minekura’s Wild Adapter. I’d previously read WA via copies borrowed from a friend and had cried every day since giving them up. No more tears for me!

My uncle really came through as well, with Fred Schodt’s Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics, which I’ve wanted my own copy of forever. He also gave me the first four volumes of one of my favorite manhwa series, Goong: The Royal Palace, previously borrowed from Michelle.

Speaking of manhwa, some family members who know me well went the route of Barnes & Noble gift cards, which I immediately spent picking up early volumes of Yen Press’ series Very! Very! Sweet and You’re So Cool. I’m already clamoring for more!

JENNIFER:
This was a holiday season for more practical-type gifts, but I did get the Clover omnibus! One of these days I’m gonna sit down and do nothing more than look at the pretty art.

When I find time. If I find time.

SAM:
Wow! Great responses so far and fun topic!

While I don’t believe I received anything manga-specific from my family (I did receive some earlier Neil Gaiman Sandman Mystery Theater books and The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hajdu), I had the opportunity to treat myself to some manga.

My former supervisor of my last internship gave me a gift card to Amazon and during the course of the internship, I was adamantly following manga news and reviews and reading up on new series and beautifully crafted books. So I bought GoGo Monster, Red Snow, Swallowing the Earth and MW, all in really nice condition.

I will be doing the same thing again soon. I sold a number of my older manga volumes to New England Comics for store credit and received $150! Any suggestions?

ISAAC:
Oooh, good idea with the store credit Sam! I also did not get any manga for Christmas, but will be buying some with the holiday loot! I loathe paying full price for anything, and am looking forward to taking advantage of my local comic book store’s (Berkeley’s Comic Relief) sale on manga next week. 35% off! I’m planning on getting Swallowing the Earth, NANA, From Eroica with Love, Kekkaishi, and All My Darling Daughters. I wonder what else I should be on the lookout for…

ERIN:
I didn’t ask for much manga this year, just Blue Spring by Taiyo Matsumoto. I also got Jonathan Clement’s Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga. I’m looking forward to reading it! Last Christmas I got Noah (now he’s my husband) a bunch of volumes of Berserk. This year, I got him volumes 18-25, in a slow effort to catch up.

Over the holidays I finished reading Fred Schodt’s Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga. I really enjoyed the section on different manga magazines in Japan. In the second half of the book Schodt does a series of artist spotlights. Many of the authors were published in Garo, the legendary alternative magazine magazine, so they tend to be artists I want to read. The best part is that Schodt interviews half the people he talks about, including the editors of the magazines he describes. It’s a fun read!

MICHELLE:
Ooh, Dreamland Japan sounds marvelous. I’ve been lamenting my lack of knowledge of Japanese magazines and publishers lately, so I might have to check that out.

I did not get any manga as a gift, but neither did I ask for any directly. I usually point my mother to my Amazon wishlist, but I think she felt safer making selections from the DVD and fiction categories. One thing she did get me was 70 Japanese Gestures: No Language Communication, in which a respectable-looking middle-aged man demonstrates gestures ranging from the mundane to the slightly risqué. It’s pretty amusing.

This does bring up a sub-topic, though… How do you describe manga to your parents?

ERIN:
I just tell my parents that manga is “Japanese comics” and they generally get it. They knew how was into Sailor Moon in high school.

But this year I described yaoi to them, and it totally blew my dad’s mind. He wasn’t offended or anything, he just repeated “WOW! I did NOT know that!” in an amusing fashion. My mom is pretty unflappable, so she didn’t really react.

MICHELLE:
Hahaha. That’s awesome.

I give mine the same general explanation, with perhaps a little bit of information about how manga differs from Western comics, but I have not been brave enough to describe BL to them. I tell my husband and others, “It’s gay romance,” but don’t elaborate beyond that.

KEN:
This Christmas was a bit light on the manga sadly. Still, I did get volume seven of Eden: It’s An Endless World and I used some Christmas money to snag the second volume of Dororo as well!

SAM:
I don’t really read enough yaoi and hopefully won’t have to explain it to my parents.

Like Erin, I also gave manga as a gift this year. My uncle is a graphic artist and was the one who initially introduced me to comics so I got him a copy of A Drifting Life. Also, this isn’t a Christmas gift, but I lent my girlfriend, Adrien, all of my Rumic Theater books!

Did anyone else give out manga this year?

MICHELLE:
Actually, the Clover omnibus Jen received was from me.

MELINDA:
I gave volume one of Children of the Sea to my uncle (the same one who gifted me with manhwa). He is a college professor in visual arts, so, aside from my mother (who has read several series I’ve loaned her), I figure he’s the next best hope for pushing manga on my family.

My parents read most of my reviews (including yaoi reviews) so I rarely have to explain anything, which is nice.

ERIN:
Noah and I have been giving manga as gifts to the lawyers he works for, and their families. We gave Swan to a little girl who likes ballet and Dragonball to her brother, Crayon Shin Chan went to their stay-at-home mom, Doing Time went to a criminal lawyer, Slam Dunk to his teenage son and Beauty Pop to his junior-high daughter. One year we gave a golf-fanatic lawyer a copy of Golden Rough: The Stance of Souta in Japanese, although we don’t think he had much time to flip through it. These were all volumes 1-2 or 1-3.

GRANT:
No direct manga gifts here. (Although my parents did get me a copy of the first Ender’s Game graphic novel compilation, which comes close.) I made use of gift cards to bolster my collection of classic manga: Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life, Push Man, and Abandon the Old in Tokyo.

While I didn’t officially classify it as a holiday gift for them, I did pick up a bunch of manga for my in-class library prior to winter break. (I’m an English teacher.) Some of my students have been griping that our media center doesn’t get any new series, so I’ve gotten them the Maximum Ride manga, some Fullmetal Alchemist, and CLAMP’s Tsubasa. I have to read through some One Piece volumes to make sure they’re classroom safe before I can put those out, too.

Explaining manga to my parents has always been easy. I was Dragonball-obsessed starting in 6th grade and they would take me up to the comic store every month to buy Viz’s latest single-chapter release of DB and DBZ. I loved the stuff so much they had no choice but to talk to me about it on a regular basis. (They get major parenting points for that.)

JEN:
Erin, I’ve actually had similar conversations with my parents over the same thing. Well, sort of. My dad’s an archaeologist, and actually lived in Japan when he was a child (my grandfather was in the Army and was part of the post-war occupation), so the conversation was decidedly anthropological.

MICHELLE:
Melinda, the fact that your mom reads manga is pretty amazing. I can’t imagine mine doing that at all.

I haven’t given much manga as gifts, really, but I’m doing my best to introduce it to my coworker’s daughter, Elizabeth, whom I’ve successfully hooked on Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Doctor Who. I tried once before when she was 9 or 10 with the first volume of Cardcaptor Sakura but it didn’t interest her. Now she’s twelve and majorly into Twilight so I’m thinking that Vampire Knight might appeal to her. I don’t own it, though, so all I can do is nudge her toward the library.

I did used to loan it to some of my piano students, back when I taught. One of those kids still has my volume eight of Prince of Tennis!

CONNIE:
Fun topic! I’m enjoying all the different answers, too.

I neither gave nor received manga for Christmas, unfortunately. Usually my parents do give me gifts off a list, but this year it was all about a new TV, so I can’t complain. Try as I might, I don’t know a lot of people who read or really get into manga, so I don’t have many I can make gifts to. I might try to give a few volumes to my younger cousins next year. My roommate is a voracious reader of my manga, but he leaves it to me to buy all of it and just hand him things to read. He usually tries to get me other comics he thinks I’ll like, but not this year.

I did make a gift to myself of five volumes of From Eroica with Love in Japanese and the first two bilingual volumes of Princess Knight. It even arrived on Christmas day, strangely enough. My roommate’s Christmas gift to himself was a subscription to 2000 AD and a volume of Flesh, so we’re both looking forward to that.

My parents occasionally ask conversationally about manga since I have so much of it, but I think both would rather not know. My mom tried to read some a long time ago, and picked up random volumes of Lupin III and Confidential Confessions. She was horribly offended by both (Lupin for its bawdiness and Confidential Confessions because it was a story about a girl trying to fight back against a teacher that sexually harasses her) and never asked me or tried to read others again. My father once asked about a volume of Sorcerer Hunters with one of the characters in bondage gear on it, but never asked again. I don’t think they ever need to know BL exists.

SAM:
While we’re on the subject of parents, I bought volumes seven and eight of Barefoot Gen right before a trip with my mom and I’ve gotten her into reading those.

MICHELLE:
This brings to mind another question: does your family know that you write manga reviews online?

Mine does, though Dad might’ve forgotten, though they’ve never shown any interest in reading anything I’ve written. My husband read the first few that got posted on Manga Recon, but otherwise he just listens to me talk about it and insists that I’m not boring him, though I always feel as if I am.

CONNIE:
Mine sort of know I write reviews online. I’ve mentioned it before, but they’ve never really expressed any interest in it. My roommate reads all of the reviews I write, and also sits through regular lectures that I know bore the pants off of him. He’s made me promise never to talk about Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures again.

ISAAC:
Haha! My brother used to read manga, but he “grew out of it”. He still likes a couple series though, like Cromartie High School, What’s Michael? and Azumanga Daioh.

JENNIFER:
I need to get off my butt and read Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure one of these days. I had a friend talk my ear off about it and it sounds quite cracktastic.

My sister and her husband read manga, though I know they don’t read my reviews. Sis buys Gin Tama in the original Japanese release (she took three years of college-level Japanese) and also cosplays it at cons, etc. My taste and hers are vastly different, though—I like feel-good shojo and magical girls and basically, if it ran in LaLa, I adore it. She loves gag shonen and has no time for shojo.

SAM:
We should all read Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and then we can have a roundtable about it. It’s finishing up in America very soon I believe.

Also, just to chime in on our loved one reading our reviews, my parents don’t as much, unless I make them aware of it. They do know that I write them frequently and are supportive on how much it’s done for me. My friends and girlfriend on the other hand, love to read them and either support me on my ideas or argue with me… even if they haven’ read the books. The good thing is, is that its getting them more into manga, though!

MICHELLE:
Thanks to everyone who participated; everyone’s responses were so fun! I’d like to conclude by extending these same questions to the readers: did you give or receive any manga this holiday season? Is your family aware of your love for manga and do you even dare explain BL to them? Please feel free to chime in below; we’d love to hear from you!

Posted in: Commentary, Features,

1 Response to "Manga Recon Roundtable: Manga Gift-Giving"

1 | Roundtables: Did someone say xxxHolic? | Manga Bookshelf

January 22nd, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Avatar

[...] to that a bit more in a moment, but first I’d like to point you to our latest roundtable at PopCultureShock in which I join Michelle and the rest of the gang for a discussion on manga gift-giving. It was an [...]

Tags