Kingyo Used Books Vol. 3 by Seimu Yoshizaki (a J!-ENT Manga review)

April 19, 2011 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. An insightful and entertaining manga series that manga fans will love!  Recommended!

© 2005 Seimu Yoshizaki/Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Kingyo Used Books Vol. 3 (金魚屋古書店)

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



RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: April 19, 2011

A manga collection featuring beautifully frightening horror stories piques the interest of a cowardly pick-up artist. Reading about an attractive soldier battling evil inspires a young woman to upgrade her wardrobe. A manga about the wandering travels of lone ninja and swordsmen raises the question, “What is fate?” A practical home-style cooking manga provides eating suggestions for a woman looking to expand her nightly menu. A man sets out to find a specific globe-trotting adventure manga.

If a manga volume exists, you can find it at Kingyo Used Books. But Kingyo is more than just a typical used bookstore – it’s a place where human relationships are treated as the most valuable stories of all. Natsuki, the store’s interim manager, and Shiba, the manga maniac who loves her, help both their regular patrons and random customers in a series of linked tales built around actual manga series ranging from the popular to the esoteric.

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 15: Umezu Salon – A club for manga fans of Kazuo Umezu, the dark prince of horror manga.
  • CHAPTER 16: Makeup – Misaki Tadokoro is having a tough time with finding a job, but what happens when she goes to Kingyo Books and finds a copy of the first issue of “Sailor Moon”?
  • CHAPTER 17: Same Time Tomorrow – A group visits the zoo in order to see the wolf come out of its cave.  But what happens when a member of the group are introduced to the manga work of Sanpei Shirato.
  • CHAPTER 18: The Kingyo Diaries (The Yamabuki Episode) – Natsuki-san of Kingyo Books writes about her experience working at the Kingyo Book Store and the people she comes across.
  • CHAPTER 19: The Joy of Living – A girl finds comfort in the manga series “Cooking Papa” and being inspired to cook at home because of the manga.
  • CHAPTER 20: Nekotama-do (Part 1) – A man named Nomoto discusses the past of traveling and trading manga with another Japanese traveler as custom.
  • CHAPTER 21: Nekotama-do (Part 2) – Nomoto who now works for Nekotama-Do tries to hunt down manga by those who never returned them.
  • Seven Stars (Bonus Manga) – Billy and his grandfather are on the train and discuss the Tentomushi and where the name is derived from.
  • 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.  For this notebook, the text is by Hiroshi Hashimoto who is the owner of the used bookstore Kirara Bunko.

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 Japan, manga are seen as works of art and because manga has been released for decades in Japan, the fact that times are changing and some have gone digital, the more the older classics in printed format become desirable but also the manga enthusiasts wanting to preserve manga.

In many ways, “Kingyo Used Books” is a manga about exposing people to those classic manga but finding ways to incorporate a story around that manga.

In volume 3, we see how people love the old ’70s horror manga by Kazuo Umezu, how Naoko Takeuchi’s “Sailor Moon” was a big part of the lives of those who grew up with it and how the storyline was positive for little girls and looking back, how the women were heroines or how people were inspired to cook thanks to a manga like “Cooking Papa”.  And with each chapter, we are introduced to manga that even manga enthusiasts like myself are quite interested in finding and reading.

But we also learn about other manga enthusiasts in Japan.  In Chapter 18, we learn about “Sedori”, the practice of purchasing underpriced books from used bookstores and reselling them at a profit.  But in this chapter, it’s not about profit for the sedori featured but exposing one to manga to cheer someone up and make a person happy.

In Chapter 20, we are introduced to lending libraries, which are becoming a rare breed in Japan as bookstores, manga cafe and rental bookstores are where people tend to visit.

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. An insightful and entertaining manga series that manga fans will love!


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