My History With Manga

So I heard a little something over at Organisation Anti-Social Geniuses asking everyone to tell the story of how they got into manga. This being a site devoted to manga, I figured now was the best time to discuss what began all of this.

Like most people, the story of my first manga begins with my first anime. The absolute first was probably Sailor Moon back when I was four or five, with other well known shows like Dragonball Z and Pokemon coming soon after. I never considered those to be any different from the other cartoons of the time, since I was too young to tell the difference. The first time I enjoyed a show knowing it was an anime would be Inuyasha, which was one of the highlights of my Friday nights as a kid. It had great action, characters I could get behind (which may have changed a little nowadays) and it may have even got me started on romance in anime, though it would take a much longer time for that seed to sprout.

Odd as it sounds, I have trouble remembering what my very first manga series was. Back during the later part of high school, I barely knew what manga was aside from what the school library had in stock. In total, there were only three different series I started while I was there. One was Battle Royale, which I borrowed the first two volumes of for my own silly reasons. It was the sort of series I thought was interesting, then put down and never thought about again. The second was .hack//Legend of the Twilight, which was the first series I personally owned. While I had fun with that manga, it managed the impressive task of getting worse the further back I look at it from.

The third series, however, was the most significant. Like most anime fans of any capacity, I knew about Rurouni Kenshin enough to check out the volumes I could get my hands on. It was an amazing story which remains to this day one of my favourites. At first I got them through the library, since they had a steady supply available, but as I went into university the urge to read kept going and I ended up buying the rest of the series. The fact that I only own volumes 4-18 will forever serve as a reminder of how I got started. However, despite having gotten used to the style of manga, I still didn’t read too many other series at that time. But there was something important I had started which would become extremely influential further down the line.

The full story of what got my into webcomics would be as long as the manga story, so I’ll make it short and say that apart from 8-Bit Theatre and VG Cats, most of the comics I read were after I started university. My personal favourites were Order of the Stick, Gunnerkrigg Court, and for a while Megatokyo. The main reason I bring this up is because of how reading webcomics essentially trained me how to read manga online. They’re a lot shorter and usually easier to read through, which is good for someone not used to this kind of reading. I still have most of my webcomics in my RSS feeds alongside the ongoing manga, and for a little while the way I got into new manga felt the exact same as when I was first reading those comics. It’s been a while since I started new webcomics, both because my time went into reading new manga and because I started running out of stuff I was interested in (although Cucumber Quest is still on my to-do list).

As I started watching more anime, there eventually became a point where I had no real choice except to track down the manga. While there are far too many adaptations of Mahou Sensei Negima in existence, everyone I asked told me that only the original was worth my time. So I tracked down the first five volumes of the series, read through them at a rather leisurely pace, and only discovered shortly after finishing them that scanlation sites existed. Of course I would have preferred to buy the volumes and support the mangaka – which is why I still do it when I can – but there’s only so much I could handle when I was new at manga reading and the series was already over 200 chapters.

At the same time as I started reading Negima online, I was also just beginning One Piece. Or rather, I was beginning to watch it. Since I had only seen footage from the anime, that was what I first wanted to see, but after 19 episodes and endless chants in my mind of “Are we at Grand Line yet? Are we at Grand Line yet?” I got a little annoyed. So I put Negima on hold and switched over to the One Piece manga, where I stayed for a long time. It took more than one attempt to make it to the end, but by this point I had gotten so used to manga reading that I was very curious what else I could find. At the point when I stopped One Piece for a while and began Soul Eater, which I picked for reasons no greater than random chance, I had officially become a full-time manga fan.

It’s very nostalgic looking back on what things were like at the beginning, even if it was only about three years ago. I remember when I was able to count the number of series I was caught up on, and I even recall that when I finished Claymore I was worried I’d run out of things to read. Fast forward to today, where my main concern is not having enough time to finish my backlog. It’s not the most conventional way to get into manga, but that’s mainly because I’m actually very bad at reading. At least compared to people I know. It’s not something I’m thinking of giving up for a long time, though, and I feel like it’s helped me understand anime a lot more than I might have otherwise.

Posted on May 20, 2012, in Blog Carnival and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. “The full story of what got me into webcomics would be as long as the manga story–”

    W-what? What are you doing? True, your site’s dedicated to manga, but you also read webcomics? Sounds like you should try to appeal to that audience as well. Not a lot of places actually do Webcomic reviews or discuss it all that much. True, there’s also going to be a lot of crap webcomics, but you can also find a gem or two that maybe regular comic readers can check out 🙂

    I lucked out with Negima. There was only maybe seven or so volumes of the work out so I managed to stick with it. Then, months later when it got to either the part where Fate separated the girls or when Negi took in the Magia Erebia, I had to catch up. Kind of like what I eventually did with 20th Century Boys…

    • I don’t think webcomic reviews are the right way to go. I’ve been having enough trouble keeping up with one subject most people don’t, and it’s been far too long since I’ve read new comics.

  2. ok i have to bring this up cause it seems like a pattern among the series that you read. Why do you have to drop series to start new ones. I can understand reading two series at once (I’m currently reading both Negami and another shoujo manga, Hot-blooded woman, right now) But you take it to a bad level dude. Seriously, you wanna get through your backlog, pick a series, read it, and don’t stop til you finish it. Trust me, this is the only way your gonna get through a backlog like yours.

    • That’s what I’ve been trying to do right now. My big issue is I have a short attention span, so it’s difficult to stick with one series for too long, especially when I have so many others I can read. With any luck, I’ll be able to get better at this once that backlog gets a lot smaller. Luckily I have finished some of them so far, so there’s been a little progress.

  3. My story’s kind of similar, if you trade One Piece for Naruto and I definitely know what you mean about not being able to read everything and having to backlog a few series. Truth be told, I mainly stick to reading stuff online since most of it isn’t readily available for sale in shops where I live plus using Amazon is becoming a bit of a pain.

    • Lots of people stick to online reading for stuff like that. I don’t think manga companies have the best distribution methods, but that’s a whole other discussion.

  4. I always thought you read manga first before watching anime. Never would’ve guessed it’s otherwise.I’m a long-time comic fan (Archie, Zits, Blondie, etc) but only started reading manga these few years.

    • I do that too. I watch anime first before reading the manga, mostly, if I’m not satisfied with how the anime ended, then onto the manga.. if I’m satisfied, I just leave it there. Sometimes, I just read the manga nonetheless just to see the differences between the anime and the manga.

      Though nowadays, I prefer reading completely “new” manga which haven’t or probably wouldn’t be adapted into an anime.

    • Apart from the stuff I saw on TV, I think I started both around the same time. It’s just that I warmed to anime a little quicker.

  5. It’s interesting how you got so into manga considering you live in North America. I always know anime but never really got linked to manga until I decided looking for anime downloadable stuff. It’s not also that popular when I was growing up. I remember, Harry Potter, LOTR, etc… are the popular reading past time.

  6. Quite a similar experience as mine in certain aspects…

    My introduction to manga was very gradual and I got into it only after watching anime for a very long time, learning japanese and then….well I started ordering from Japan…:P

  7. I’m still in that phase where I want to learn Japanese, but can’t. I’ve never been good at learning languages, sadly.

  8. Ha-ha, it’s only 2 years since I’ve been reading manga, but God knows why – I already have quite a sophisticated taste: Tetsuwan Girl, Sidooh, Liar Game, Becchin to Mandara – stuff like that: not very popular and very underrated.

    Before, my point of view was like “why do you need manga when you have anime”: that was until I stumbled upon Tsutomu Takahashi’s works – and got hooked.

    • That was my point of view at first, but for some series manga became kinda necessary, or at least preferred. So it was when I answered that question that I got really into it.

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