By Jason Thompson
Released by Del Rey
Slugline: Words fail me. Just buy it.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Thompson about Manga: The Complete Guide for Publisher's Weekly Comic Week. Click here for the interview.
I have been reading manga for quite a while, dating back to the mid 80s, and short of some scholarly works that are now out of print and were written so densely to be virtually impenetrable, this is the single best resource I have ever had the pleasure to read. And those academic references were only more complete in the details of how the manga market was born and evolved in Japan, and the early first steps over to the US, but lacked the breadth of understand of the current US market. Not only does this cover all the translated manga in the US, it describes all the genres, especially many of whom have been overlooked in the current manga boom (military, science fiction and mecha, I'm looking at you) but once were the staple of the few imported titles. I came across old friends such as Area 88 and Pineapple Army, along with the dozens of high school dramedies that are the modern output of manga. It also talks and reviews the yaoi and the adult manga titles. In the 90s, adult manga once seemed to be the only manga that would sell back in comic shops.
The genre descriptions also have reading lists, so to give suggestions and the appendixes talk about the Japanese language and the challenges of translating it, along with an artist guide.
You need this. Every person who reads manga more than casually should have this, or wants to know more about manga than what is on the printed page. Even though it will be a dated, as the release schedules of the publishers continue to roll along, and as even more publishers arrive, the usefulness of this as historical introduction and an overview of the dozens of genres of manga will not be affected by the passage of time.
PS. Every library that stocks manga should also get this. No excuses.
Manga: The Complete Guide is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.