wMay 23, 2010

A Review and Some Commentary

I really enjoyed the first season of Spice & Wolf, and would recommend it. The anime is based on a series of light novels originally written in Japanese (and the English translations put out by Yen Press are pretty fantastic - and I often dislike translations of Japanese fiction). Although there will be a second season, the first season definitely has a sense of closure. I liked the characters, mood, and setting very much, and I recommend it!
When I first saw advertisements for this series, I was afraid that it would be a little moe, but was glad to find that this was not the case.
has a nice review in the second half of this post, complete with a couple of pictures.

With the closing of DC Comics' CMX line (which mostly translated/distributed shoujo comics in the U.S.), there have been many intense blog posts (basically, DC never did much to promote CMX; they shut down their Minx line [also for teenage girls] in recent memory, etc).

One intense post focuses on the supposed "detrimental effect" that distributing/reading scanlations has on the sales market of manga in the U.S. It's here, written by Erica Friedman (who writes a lot about yuri manga). In this post and many others, I sometimes find classist assumptions in the anime/manga fandom: basically, that "every manga you read is one that you did not buy," which I find highly presumptive.

While I understand the principle that "voting with your dollar" certainly matters (hello, I work in an independent bookstore a few weekends per month), the idea that everyone has an equitable (or infinite) disposable income is ludicrous.

I don't mind paying money for a quality product (see Del Rey's releases of xxxHolic and Tsubasa, or Viz's Signature Line releases of Pluto, 20th Century Boys, etc). But in many cases, the money you pay does not result in a quality product. Take the Sailor Moon manga I own - they are extremely valuable because they are out of print in the U.S., but the glue job was so shoddy that half of them are falling apart despite my militant care-taking. Take also Viz's questionable translation of Fumi Yoshinaga's Ooku - yeah, I'm still buying it, but I remain displeased with Viz's translation.

Additionally, I'm probably not going to invest in Volume 1 of a 28-volume series without having read a bit, to make sure that I like where the story is going. This is about an intelligent use of my money.

To think that I would drop $8-14 on a single volume (usually readable in one 2-hour sitting - usually much less) without having read it first? For me, at least (and I will go ahead and admit that I am pretty cheap), this isn't even a question. Of course I will sample it first. And if it's not readily available at my public library (which I do use quite liberally), then yes, you'd better believe that I will download and read scanlations.
Even when I do buy manga, it is rarely at full-price - I go out of my way to scour used bookstores (and, full disclosure, even when I do buy them "new," I get an employee discount, so it's still not comparable to the average consumer).

And this is the thought-process of me, who comes from a privileged economic background and is fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to easily provide for my own needs. Especially in the state of the current U.S. economy, most people do not have the money it takes to support a single series (especially if it comes out in rapid succession, like Naruto).

Friedman goes so far as to condemn the scanlation/digital distribution of manga series not even available in English (i.e., those new in Japan, or which were never chosen for U.S. distribution). What exactly are we supposed to do? To suggest that everyone who wants to read a series not licensed in the U.S. has the leisure time to learn a foreign language (not to mention afford to buy all of the series on the Internet and have them shipped here) is nonsensical to me.

I get that buying things is the optimal choice, and if you've ever been inside my apartment, you're aware that I am certainly trying my best. However, in some cases, people do not have a choice, and I think that it is elitist and classist (or occasionally both) to assume otherwise.

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scribbled mystickeeper at 1:32 PM

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