Kingyo Used Books Vol. 2 by Seimu Yoshizaki (a J!-ENT Manga review)

December 11, 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.  Highly recommended!

© 2005 Seimu Yoshizaki/Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Kingyo Used Books Vol. 2 (金魚屋古書店)

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



RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: October 19, 2010

A war story about the lives of three men – passed along by a man with the same name. A mysterious little girl discovers the work of a children’s author through manga. A sentimental tale set in a working-class neighborhood of Osaka. Who loves the other more the mother or the father? Poetic manga released at the start of every summer. For women and children only? And a popular science fiction story inspires young boys to take a train ride.

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, two volumes of the English translated manga have now 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 8: His View – A high school president is not so thrilled about his life but life changes for him when he finds a copy of Osamu Tezuka’s “Adolf ni Tsugu”.
  • CHAPTER 9: Yes or No – A story of how the Sedori named Okadome met Kingyo Books’ Naoki Shiba.
  • CHAPTER 10: The Other Side of the Window – A young girl who ran away from an adult watching over her, ends up at a woman’s home and wants the woman to read her Miyazawa Kenji’s “Mangakan”.
  • CHAPTER 11: A Bundle of Papers – Natsuki-san of Kingyo Books tries to find her way and a purpose of working at the book store and takes part in a Used Book Fair to sell manga.
  • CHAPTER 12: Dad Again – Natsuki-san’s father is visiting her and wants her to meet men who can be potential suitors and is introduced by Naoki a manga titled “Jarinko Chie”..
  • CHAPTER 13: One Percent Man – A story about men who like love stories from the manga “Chiisana Koi no Monogatari” but one guy is afraid to buy it because others may not perceive him as a man.
  • CHAPTER 14: Star Traveler – The song of the manga king lets his friend borrow a copy of the manga “Ginga Tetsudo 999”.
  • I Want To Be Happy (Bonus Manga) – Billy and his grandfather meet a girl who wants to know what the mark on Shogakukan manga means.
  • 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. While the first volume seemed to be more dramatic and emotional, volume 2 tends to have stories in which the finale of the story may make the reader read the story all over again to see if they miss something.  Some may feel the stories don’t make sense while those who delve deeper into the meaning may understand it.  So, in someway, like an arthouse film with a non-traditional ending, you get some of that with a few of the chapters.

Also, making things a bit different compared to the last volume is the reappearance of characters.  The Kingyo staff primarily Natsuki and Naoki appear more in this volume and also we get to see Okadome, the sedori making a re-appearance not once but twice. And one storyline about him.  But I do like how the manga ends with the final chapter that deals with the Leiji Matsumoto manga “Ginga Tetsudo 999”.

Overall, “Kingyo Used Books” continues the storylines of how manga has helped or changed the lives of people.   And for me, 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, but for people all over the world.

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. The first two volumes have won me over and I can’t wait for the third  volume. Highly recommended!

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