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Kingyo Used Books Vol. 1 by Seimu Yoshizaki (a J!-ENT Manga review)

October 31, 2010 by  



Nostalgic, informative and delightful…  “Kingyo Used Books” is a manga series features individual chapters that show how manga has influenced the lives of many people.  This first volume has won me over and I can’t wait for the second volume.  Highly recommended!

© 2005 Seimu Yoshizaki/Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Kingyo Used Books Vol. 1 (金魚屋古書店)

STORY AND ART BY: Seimu Yoshizaki (芳崎 せいむ)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHOGAKUKAN, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Viz Signature

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: April 20, 2010

Every bookstore has a thousand stories to tell. An art student finds inspiration. An archer hits a bull’s-eye. A homemaker rediscovers romance. A teenager discovers his true self in the pages of a manga magazine. All this and more at Kingyo Used Books, a place that helps people find their dreams.

Nostalgic, informative and delightful…”Kingyo Used Books” is a unique manga series that focuses on how manga has changed or influenced the lives of people.

I’m sure there are forms of entertainment that have inspired people, may they be movies, animated shows, books, etc.  But when you think about the culture of Japan, manga (Japanese comic books) are a big part of their culture.  Before I became interested in manga back in the early ’90s, I grew up reading Marvel, DC and other independent comics from other publishers but at the time, the stigma of American comic books are of titles that people grew up with as a child and read and discarded when they grew older.

Things have changed today as these comic books now target the same audience that grew up with them and reflect that demographic but because of today’s distribution and availability, it only attracts a niche audience who seek it.

While in Japan, there is manga for everyone.  Men, women, children… featured in magazines, featured in newspapers and it’s a big part of the culture that people have grown up with them and unlike the US, it’s everywhere.  Go into a store and you can see many people reading manga, walk down the street and you can find a used-manga store, pick up a newspaper or magazine, you will see manga featured.  Manga is a big part of that culture in Japan and I can easily say that it’s been part of my life for over 20 years.

Recently I have read “Kingyo Used Books” (known in Japan as “Kingyoya Koshoten”) by mangaka Seimu Yoshizaki (creator of “Aka-chan to Tenshi”, “Tekekinesis Yamanote TV Cinema”, “Ugokashiya”, “Dekaguru”).  She began “Kingyo Used Books” back in 2004 and with ten graphic novels currently published in Japan, the first English translated manga has been released in the US courtesy of Viz Media as part of their Viz Signature line.

The main storyline of  the manga series revolves around a used bookstore known as “Kingyo Used Books” and how manga has influenced the lives of those who visit the store. Each chapter is a different storyline featuring different characters but with the staff of the book store remaining the same, as they try to help their customers.

Here is a spoiler-free synopsis of each chapter:

  • CHAPTER 1: The Components of Memory – A young adult feels he needs to get rid of his manga but when he attends his reunion with his classmates, he realizes that manga was a big part of their lives.
  • CHAPTER 2: Hokusai Manga – A young painter wants to become better and a fellow classmate lends her a manga.
  • CHAPTER 3: Far Away – A teen is preparing for an archery contest and although he is great at practice, he chokes up in competitions but one day, he runs into the folks of the Kingyo Used Book Store.
  • CHAPTER 4: The Boy Detective Arrives – The staff at Kingyo Used Book Store prepare for the arrival of a boy named Billy (a Japanese who studied in America) who was inspired by a manga series.
  • CHAPTER 5: A Country Without Manga – Shiba discovers a French comic known as “Blueberry”.
  • CHAPTER 6: Fujiomi-kun – A woman named Sasaki takes on the role as school leader of the Yearly Parent Association Bazaar but feels she has no one to help her.
  • CHAPTER 7: The Sedori Business – A story of two people who worked in a Sedori business (purchasing used manga and reselling it at a higher cost).
  • BILLY & GRANDPA’s CURIOUS TRAVELOGUE, EPISODE 1 – Billy and his grandfather visit a Hamabi Festival and take part in a manga contest.
  • Kingyo Used Books Notebook – A section in which each manga that is featured in each chapter is further explained and how they are popular among manga collectors.

Last year, I was gushing about how “Oishinbo” was a manga series that made me so happy because it was so different, it was realistic in setting and dealt with how food influences people and the manga would even go further by letting people know more about the food and even give out recipes for people to try out at home.

So, to find another manga that definitely has a similar vibe of touching upon the nostalgia of manga, how it has influenced people but to also give information of these classic manga and its availability at used book stores and such, that was pretty awesome!

When it comes to entertainment…may it be books, animation, movies, video games or whatever, some people have a connection to these stories and some that really touch people more than they think.  In the first chapter, the young man who wants to rid of his manga because he is growing older, this is a feeling that anyone who is a collector have felt many times before.  I grew up reading a lot of comic books and manga since grade school and I have a closet-full of books that I have contemplated selling or keeping but once in awhile, you meet people who have read the same stories that you have and were touched by them, inspired by them.  I know one friend who was inspired by the art and went to art school, for me, I was inspired by the manga “Asunaro Hakusho” and it inspired me to start up an off-campus Japanese pop culture club during my college years and sure enough, manga was one of the major driving forces that has began my early years as an online journalist (during the old BBS years) as I was among the few in media covering anime and manga and writing about it during the birth of anime conventions and anime/manga distribution.  Manga was very helpful in me learning the Japanese language and helping me learn to read kana and kanji and to familiarize myself with the characters.

So, manga has had an influence in my life and to read this series was so delightful and enjoyable and I know it has influenced the life of many others, not just in Japan, as well.

Nostalgic, informative and delightful…  “Kingyo Used Books” is a manga series features individual chapters that show how manga has influenced the lives of many people.  This first volume has won me over and I can’t wait for the second volume.  Highly recommended!

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