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Manga Before Flowers — Manga Collection Hell

Today my boyfriend gets back from his walk and smiles when he sees a few (small-ish) stacks of manga on the guest bed. “You’re organizing?” (“Organizing” is code for “selling manga on ebay”). I nod.

This makes me look good until he sees the two LARGE stacks of to-be-read manga in the bedroom.

“But you are going to sell off more of it…” He trails off, it isn’t quite a question.

I whimper a little as if in pain.

Probably not.

“But when we move…” He starts.

My whimpering gets a little louder.

He put his hands up in surrender and backs away.

Smart man.

This spring we inherited three large book cases from folks who moved out of town.

As of now, two of those book cases house my manga collection. When I organized my manga alphabetically this spring there was room for almost all the manga I planned to keep on those two large bookcases. That is no longer the case.

See current state of manga shelves:

This is book case number 1.

The top shelf contains “special purchases” or unusual manga finds. If you look carefully you can see some original Japanese manga, flipped versions of Maison Ikkoku, as well as recent omnibus releases like Apollo’s Song, Tekkon Kinkreet and Fruits Basket: Ultimate Edition, vol 1. Not to mention Manga: The Complete Guide, and a large stack of manga on the end that needs to be shelved. And oh yes, some random Cardcaptor Sakura I’ve scored from the local used bookstores. Shelves 2-5 are taken up by manga alphabetized A-L (it begins with After School Nightmare and end with Legal Drug). If you look carefully you will notice significant gaps here — the first seven volumes of Eden, the first seven volumes of Cantarella are all missing. Some of these gaps are because my local library rocks and that is how I first read many manga series (Eden). Other gaps are because I got tired of a series, sold it thinking I was done with it and then it rebounded back into cracky-goodness. Dammit (Cantarella).

And I also get into debates with myself….do I need to own Genshiken? I liked it and all but the library owns it. So. No. I do not need Genshiken. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Moving on, you might have noticed that the bottom shelf includes my U.S. comic trades. Looking closely one will see Y: the Last Man, Ex Machina, Runaways (anyone sensing a theme?) as well as Scott Pilgrim and some random Batman / Superhero trades. It is a pretty anemic collection to be honest….Peresepolis and Fun Home should be there at least (and by god, will be there by the end of the year. I promise). Also there are Teen Titan trades but nothing by Morrison. That is just wrong.

This is book case #2.

Notice the stacks / packages on top. This is manga I haven’t had time to read: the large stack is Seimaden (CMX), all 10 volumes and the shorter stack is some Yen Press manga that I need to review. At some point. The package is x/1999 but missing volumes 11 and 14 (I think). Below that, the first four shelves pick up where we left off on the alphabet — we start with Loveholic and end with volume 1 of “Your and My Secret” (both the Tokyopop and the ADV versions). Manga stacked here has been probably been read but not always (*wince* I see “Queen’s Knight” there and I haven’t even touched that yet. Or, four volumes “Young Magician” I haven’t yet touched which is even shelved correctly. Crap!). The last shelf is for manga magazines — ones of the left are Japanese phone-books and on the right are my English-language mags — mostly Shojo Beat and OtakuUSA (you might also catch the special issues Wired & the Comics Journal did on manga there as well).

Meanwhile, I’ve already found a bunch of volumes that I haven’t read yet, in spite of the fact they are on the shelves (whoopsie!).

Moving onto my current reading piles….

This is Pile to Read Number 1.

Notice that in this pile contains only one volume from a single series or only one-shotes (like Fake-Fur). These are series I’m currently “caught up with.” Which now means I can read the lastest volume of these series with a clear conscience.

Which is not the case for …..

To be read pile #2. Good god!

Yup, multiple volumes of Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo, Skip-Beat, Gin Tama, Gakuen Alice, From Eroica with Love, NANA and even *gasp* Fruits Basket. Now there is a sheer level of awesomeness here that deserves serious attention and this reflects the fact that these are probably the most “dense” manga series I currently buy. Each volume of these series takes a little “extra” effort to get through it….NANA and Fruits Basket because they are emotionally draining, From Eroica with Love & GinTama because they are wordy as hell, Skip Beat because…well. I need energy to appreciate its total and complete shojo-brilliance. I always have my (random) reasons but they aren’t really useful when following them leaves a serious stack of manga as my current reading pile.

Now we come to a whole new level of collector’s shame. I also have manga “hidden” away so I don’t have to see it everyday and mourn the fact I 1) haven’t read it, and 2) don’t really have room for it.

I think of these manga collectively as “Ebay is evil” since that is where I got them.

Yes, that is all of Banana Fish. Which I have yet to read.

And:

7 volumes of Cipher and three volumes of Never Give Up (which came free with my Cipher auction).

Then there’s the fact I also just attended a convention. What do good little fanboys and fangirls do at a convention? They buy shit of course! So there is the little matter of a box of books I shipped myself from LA (some actually bought in the dealer’s room at AnimeExpo, others scored from the Japanese bookstore, Kinokuniya, located in downtown LA in Tokyotown).

I remember the “good old days” when I could actually re-read my manga volumes and savor them. Ah, those were the days….sort of.

In the end this post is an excuse to post pictures of my manga, since I love looking at pictures of other people’s shelves and figured I couldn’t go wrong sharing mine here.

14 Comments

Ha, that ain’t nothin’! I have 6 FULL plastic under-the-bed bins of manga plus four or five towering stacks of manga to read. Luckily, my husband is also a collector (of records, in his case) and doesn’t pressure me to get rid of any of it. Still, I do self-prune and if I finish something and don’t think it has reread potential, I’ll sell it or donate it to the local library.

One of the major reasons I married Julie was because when she saw my apartment her response was not a horrified, “Have you READ all those books?” but rather a joyful, “Oh, look at all the books!”

Of course, we’ve moved twice since then. And there’s nothing like moving to motivate you to prune the collection. Still, though, we chose our current apartment so I could have a book room/office. And the books are threatening to crowd the office out.

Danielle Leigh

July 10, 2008 at 7:12 am

hi jun! Yeah, my sister and brother-in-law are huge record collectors (it would be hard to judge who spent more money on their collections…probably sis because she’s been collecting for over a decade while I’ve been collecting for three years).

Also I have such a hard time letting go of certain things…even if I *know* the re-read factor is low I’m always like…well what if I feel like reading Penguin Revolution again next fall? (I know. I’m just sad is what I am). And then I’ve made mistakes (getting rid of Cantarella for instance, when I wish now I hadn’t.)

Danielle Leigh

July 10, 2008 at 7:15 am

hi Greg — the most amusing part is we aren’t even planning a move in the next YEAR! (I think because we are grad students the boyfriend is always thinking about mobility in case we have to move for any reason). Still. It is quite amusing to hear him invoke “moving” when we just signed on for another year at our current rental.

Also, like your girlfriend, he understands the lure of books — his father owned a bookstore — but he’s kind of anti-clutter because his kept so many of his books even after he sold his store.

Oh boy, do I have a lot of manga unread. I’m in the same boat as you, with manga that I’m caught up with and others where I’ve fallen horribly behind. I still haven’t touched the Astroboy collection in ages. I love books but just don’t have the time to catch up on it all!

Wow behind on Nana? Watch out on Nana vol. 11. I decided to read it right before bed and found out that instead of the normal 180 ish pages it was like 230. Stayed up WAY too late. I’ve got a pretty big manga backlog myself, including 10 volumes of fullmetal alchemist and how ever many volumes of Trigun I actually have (they are scattered around). I never seem to get to my shounen series, although most of my shoujo gets read pretty quickly.

Danielle Leigh

July 10, 2008 at 9:02 am

Grico — thanks for the head’s up on NANA 11, I thought it looked a little thicker than usual!

thanks to the library I’m caught up on Full Metal Alchemist (and man, Viz isn’t releasing those volumes very promptly, are they?), but since I have so much shojo (my shonen collection is practically nonexistant) that is usually what remains unread.

Jim Yung — sometimes I just want to hold the books in my hand. I wonder where the actually “reading” them as well went when comes to the whole process!

There better be a damn good reason I didn’t see Excel Saga in any of those piles.

Andrew Collins

July 10, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Ha ha! I feel your pain! I have the equivalent of SIX full size wooden bookcases full of just manga! I’ve sold off dozens of volumes to a local used bookstore as well, and put some complete runs up on eBay, but I still have sooooo much. And I just keep adding to it. Whenever I’ve looked at the shelves lately and thought about selling some, I start whimpering and crying too. At this point, it’s going to take something drastic to make me pare my collection down to a more manageable level…

Doug Atkinson

July 10, 2008 at 5:01 pm

These photos demonstrate something I’ve felt for a while: Someone needs to make an inexpensive bookshelf that’s scaled for paperbacks. Sauder bookshelves are fine for hardcovers, but there’s a lot of wasted space unless you turn them sideways and stack them two deep; they don’t always have enough holes to usefully add more shelves, either. I keep my manga on an old DVD storage shelf..and stacked in tiered shoeboxes on my bedstead…and stacked sideways and two deep on some old pressboard shelves from my college days…and just sort of piled wherever…

My hubby built some custom shelves for his CDs using supplies from the hardware store. He found this wood that’s just the right width for a CD and was able to put them a CD’s height apart, too. He’s talked about doing the same for my manga collection, but right now I’m okay with it as it is. If we actually did go through with it, all of the walls in the bedroom would be lined with manga. :)

My God. Wow. I know I’m suppose to be sad for you to be so behind on your manga, to have to sell some precious manga away…ect. But I’m envious as hell. If only I have that many I’d die happy. XD

But maybe it is sad if you’re missing out on Banana Boat, Nana, Suppli, High School Debut and Fruits Basket. I mean, seriously!

Doesn’t it make you proud when you stand back and just ADMIRE your collection of manga? It just fills me with an overwhelming sense of pride for some reason. lol. I’m so proud of being an otaku.

Just remember that having an amazing manga collection comes with a price. In my case that price is much different than where to store it all. My Finance and I are planning our wedding and when she sees my manga collection she just sighs a little and says something like “All that money spent on manga and we still have two payments left on the reception hall…..” or “you know if you e-bayed a few more of those series then we could easily add the ice sculptor to the buffet table”. Of course in all fairness I have a collection that at this point is two and a half book shelves going two deep with manga and growing.

Ps if you do decide to cheat for more storage space then just store the books two deep and group by series, with other series stacked on their sides on top of them……and yea I have way to much manga.

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