Read the label

December 7, 2007

Tom Spurgeon points to a manga flap in Lexington, KY, involving a copy of Yuu Watase’s Absolute Boyfriend (from Viz’s Shojo Beat imprint and serialized in the magazine) in the children’s section of a Books-A-Million. I don’t really have anything much to say about the story itself, which reads like one of those “Can too much applesauce be fatal?” stories that local news outfits love so much. But Tom did make a couple of points about the Books-A-Million chain, and I wanted to chime in:

“The one thing that jumps out at me is that Book-a-Million is a big growth account for manga recently, and it’s my understanding that the chain has shown up in some towns that haven’t had a bookstore in a while. That would mean the store has increased coverage for manga in addition to simply increasing the number of outlets where it’s available.”

That was certainly the case here in north-central West Virginia. Books-a-Million was the first stand-alone chain bookstore in town, and it’s had a reasonably sized (and growing) manga section since it opened a few years back. It’s since been joined by a Barnes & Noble, which has its own substantial graphic novel/manga section.

I vaguely remember reports of Books-a-Million having a special “adult graphic novel/manga” section separate from the general population for some of the spicier, plastic-wrapped offerings, though I’ve never seen that set-up personally. And I’ve never seen manga or graphic novels shelved in the children’s section, though admittedly I don’t spend a lot of time there.

I can say without qualification that I think Absolute Boyfriend is probably the worse thing Watase has ever created, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s rated for older teens, as is a fair amount of the Shojo Beat line (or just for teens), so it sounds like it might have been carelessly shelved, if in fact it was in the children’s section.

Previews review Dec. 2007

December 7, 2007

It’s time again for a quick tour through the latest Previews catalog.

In Andi Watson’s Princess at Midnight (page 140), a sheltered, home-schooled girl becomes a capricious, adorable despot when the lights go out. The story was one of the highlights of the first Mammoth Book of Best New Manga, and now Image is publishing a stand-alone version. I’m half-heartedly debating whether ten new pages merit buying it again, but I think I will for two reasons. One, if sales are strong, Watson might be more inclined to do a follow-up, and two, it seems like a reasonable enough way to thank Image for publishing Glister. (I’d thank them even more wholeheartedly if I could ever find anything on their website.)

I try and resist mentioning new volumes of ongoing series when I do these things, but when the series is as good as Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&! (volume six on page 191, ADV), I weaken.

The same flexible ethics apply to Fuyumi Soryo’s ES (volume 8 on page 250, Del Rey). This is great, character-driven science fiction. (Does anyone know if this is the last volume in the series?)

Sometimes a premise sounds so delightfully idiotic and tacky that I’m unable to resist. That’s the case with Kei Azumaya’s All Nippon Airline (Juné, page 265):

“ANAL – All Nippon Air Lines – is a unique airline company. All of its employees are beautiful gay men. On top of that, relationships between employees, or even between passengers and employees, are highly encouraged!”

I’m not proud.

It’s been running in Shojo Beat, and now the first collection of Chica Umino’s sweet, hilarious Honey and Clover (Viz, page 357) will be available for people who pass on the magazine.

The premise sounds really familiar (Wild Adapter Junior, maybe), but the full-page ad for Saki Otoh and Nakamura Tomomi’s Switch (Viz, page 359) is really eye-catching and clever.

Okay, and since I’m indulging in mentions for ongoing series, I’ll note that the second volume of Keiko Tobe’s With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child (Yen Press, page 363) is due. It’s a really admirable series, executed well, and it’s unlike pretty much anything else in the manga category, though I wish it weren’t.