A Deluge of Delights

When I was younger, every once in a while, I'd hear about contests for various toy stores that promised a shopping spree as one of the grand prizes.

Oh, how I wanted to win that spree.

I imagined that there'd be a time limit, wherein the winner would be given a cart and told to run through the store, grabbing as much as he wanted, and everything he got to the door was his.

Maybe if there was enough time, he could run back and get another cart. However, I wasn't too sure if that would be possible, so I made sure to plan my route through every major toy store I frequented carefully. I knew I wouldn't be able to get everything I wanted, but I could get the best of what was available.

Even to this day, I tend to think of abstract possibilities a little more than the average person, but it's what keeps my brain from getting bored, and it enables me to write articles such as this.

The reason I'm mentioning my childhood plan (for it was a plan, and not a dream - it was preparation for an event that I knew was going to happen to me someday) is because I sort of feel that way about the current state of manga releases.

Let me explain.

There are so many new titles available each week, I'm having trouble keeping up with all of them. One year ago, I could safely say that I was at least familiar with every title in print. Now I find myself walking into my own store and noticing new books I've never seen before. Suddenly Rurouni Kenshin is on its sixth volume, and Abenobashi has finally been released.

Some titles, like Fruits Basket or Hellsing, are treated to a high volume push when they first arrive. That is, we get about 20 initial copies of certain books that are guaranteed bestsellers. However, many series - especially books from ADV, Dark Horse, or ComicsONE - only debut with a single copy for sale, and when it sells, none come in to replace it.

I do my best to stay on top of these lower tier titles, though with so many new books coming out so quickly, they can come and go before I know it.

We now have an immense selection of books to choose from, but with limited funds and variable availability, I feel as if I'm running through a toy store with a time constraint and an all-too-tiny cart.

The upside of this is that we have the ability to pick only what we want. Even if you only like one out of every ten series in print, then there's at least 50 series you might be interested in.

However, this also means that unknown series that deserve a shot at popularity - books such as any Osamu Tezuka work, The Ruler of the Land, Evil's Return, B'Tx, Cyborg 009, and Club 9 - run a high risk of falling through the cracks of mainstream manga fandom.

So I just thought that this month, go out there and try something you haven't read before. Plenty of public libraries are starting to carry manga - check out some books that you'd never consider buying just to broaden your perspective.

I know that I've said this before, but now more than ever we need to show that EVERY manga title has the potential to sell, not just the books tied to television shows or the ones based on popular anime series.

It's true that as the volume of new manga increases, so does the volume of titles that aren't so great. Just remember that even if you aren't too fond of a series, it doesn't mean that no one likes it. I've heard people complain about the amount of "crap" series that are getting pushed over here to take advantage of the sudden surge of manga purchases, but really, it's hard to say that there's nothing redeeming about any particular series. Some of them may not be for me (at least until they release certain books without censorship and name changes), but I still like seeing them over here.

And that's your public service announcement for the month of August. With some new Fruits Basket, Samurai Deeper Kyo, and Gravitation on the way, I'm sure that plenty of you will be able to find something to read this month!

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