My name is Jason Thompson, and I have read a lot of manga. It just sort of happened. As the author of Manga: The Complete Guide, the first and so far only English-language manga encyclopedia, I made a vow to read every manga available in English. That was back in 2006, when there was less manga available than there is now; but it was still a process requiring 10+ months of reading manga for 12+ hours a day.
I could say it was a terrible ordeal (I did lose a lot of skin pigmentation by staying indoors for 10 months), but why lie? I am a manga fan. I am also a comics fan, a science fiction fan, a fantasy and horror fan, dating back to my elementary school years when I read Starlog film guides and The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (whose structure, with its essays on various sci-fi genres, was a big influence on MtCG). I am a RPG fan, an obsession which started with Dungeons & Dragons at age six and is currently expressing itself through King of RPGs, my graphic novel series coming out in January from Del Rey. (Osamu Tezuka, “God of Manga,” once said “Manga is my wife. Animation is my mistress.” In my case, RPGs are my mistress.) I may not get to run D&D games for a living, but I read (and write) manga for a living, and it was a great feeling to pour my observations on years of manga into “Manga: The Complete Guide.”
The one flaw of “Manga: The Complete Guide,” however, is that it is a book, and after it was published, the manga market kept going, producing more and more manga. Despite my pleas to publishers to stop all manga production so my book would forever be an icy memorial to a frozen world of manga, time marched on, and with every month incredible new manga — Honey and Clover! Black Jack! Moyashimon! — were being released. (And plenty of awful manga too, but that’s another story.) How would MtCG keep up? Would we release new editions, perhaps annually, like an old Leonard Maltin/Roger Ebert film guide? Or would the book continue in some other format? A cryptic note in the back of the first edition of “Manga: The Complete Guide” promised, as some of you may recall, that Del Rey would soon release information about online updates.
Now, the update has finally come! Manga: The Complete Guide will become a daily blog feature on this site, unboundworlds.com. Starting on September 16, 2009, I will be posting a new manga review every day. I’ll still be doing reviews of volume ones for Otaku USA Magazine and untranslated books for Comixology, but the UnboundWorlds material will be completely original and different. In the style of the original MtCG, these won’t just be reviews of a single volume of a series; they will be reviews of an ENTIRE series condensed into a single bite-sized post. I’ve been writing these reviews ever since MtCG came out, all throughout 2008 and 2009, and now you’ll finally get to see them, along with new reviews I’ll be writing starting… now! So please check out this site as I continue my long journey through the worlds of manga.
There’s one more thing. Over the course of writing MtCG, my house slowly filled with manga. Kitchen cabinets which had once contained knives and forks were filled with graphic novels. Graphic novels slipped between my walls and my bed. Graphic novel particles seemed to float hazily in the air, and it’s a miracle the whole place didn’t smell like a used bookstore, the odor of paper and musty dryness. I almost found myself eating manga. It’s an exciting life. However, after many months of reflection, I realized that I had collected many graphic novels which I would never read again, and my apartment was becoming increasingly unliveable due to the stacks of manga, continually crashing to the floor like stacks of paperwork in a government office in a Kafka story.
I considered founding a manga cafe, but then another idea came to me: to give away my manga. What I really want is to encourage people to read more manga, after all, so why not? So starting on September 16, 2009, I’ll also be giving away more than half of my manga collection, including many great series like GTO, Fruits Basket, Monster Collection, Sailor Moon, Rurouni Kenshin, xxxHolic, and much, much more.
Here’s how it works. Sarting on the 16th, there will be a form field on this site where you can enter your name, address and age. Choose what general type of manga you want (shojo, shonen, seinen, yaoi, etc.), submit the form, and you’ll be entered for a random drawing. Each day, one person will receive 5 graphic novels. A winner is only allowed to win once… BUT! Post a photo of yourself with your manga, and send me the link at “firstname.lastname@example.org”, and we will cross-post it on this blog and send you 5 more graphic novels.
So, by September 16, 2010, I’ll be posting 365 new manga reviews and giving away between 1,825 and 3,650 volumes of manga. All you have to do is sign up for a chance to win. (Note that each day, all the previous day’s entries are deleted, so the more days you sign up, the more chance you have of winning.) Deb Aoki has written about the contest, and there will be more information posted on this site when the first review goes online on the 16th. Come back to the site then and check it out!
I love manga, and ever since I got into the business, I’ve always wanted to turn people on to new manga they didn’t know they liked. Manga is for the people. So, please enjoy the reviews, and please take my manga. Don’t worry, I’ll be getting new manga to replace it.