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.