Friday, August 27, 2021

Reasons why not to buy physical manga

How wise it is to cherish desires of that nature in the mind, that when things run counter, you may easily find a cure for them!

Terence Phormio act 5 scene 4

 

A couple of weeks ago, close relative of mine came out with the news that he is now collecting manga. That got me thinking into and getting some myself, but very soon I hit the brick wall of the price expenditure. Manga does not come cheap, and while I can afford them anyway, it still doesn't feel right to outlay so much money with so seemingly little in return. Reflecting a bit more, I came into the realization that it is even worse than that.

 

I wholeheartedly agree that manga has very beautiful art and great stories. Manga rooms on the net look like candy shops of wonder. Individual volumes are very neat and their covers very often are gorgeous. Take those from Saki for instance which are nice contained vignettes pulsating with life. I feel drawn to keep gazing at them on and on.

 

But covertly with the joy they provide, there comes a hefty amount of unease that, as I see it, snuffs out this joy almost outright. The morality of some of the content is a whole other matter which probably won't convince you to stay away (because we tell ourselves that the manga is sooo good!) so I will only warn you now from the practical side.

 

I posit that buying physical manga is a no-win scenario because it makes you suffer before, during and after the actual reading.

 

  • As said, new manga is relatively expensive per volume and there are usually tens of those for a regular series. One has to find the money somehow and let it go likely for good; money that your future self might need someday.
  • One has to find a series that one likes which may, or may not be translated into English.
  • If the series isn't completed, one has to wait months and months for another volume to find out what will happen.
  • When one finally has the actual volumes, there's a natural inclination to keep them in their oh-so-pretty condition as long as possible taking care not to soil them, tear them, etc. And this is a losing battle, because as a rule, they yellow and their spines fade with the passage of time. Oh, and if you were to lend one out, you might receive it back with ketchup stains or who knows what.
  • These take up space, *lots of space* and if you're a regular human, you'll not be satisfied with just one series.
  • Even if it were an American style comic, it is difficult to make out the minute pen strokes on many of the more baroque-ish scenes, which is a shame considering all the effort the artist might have gone through to get those right. You know they are there, but your eyes won't respond to everything. If somehow one could zoom on paper…
  • From what I hear, it is unlikely that you will keep reading over and over your old series because the novelty of the storyline dissipates once you have gone through all the chapters once. It doesn't seem to be as in novels were you can go back to them and find new angles and thought matter. As a consequence, you'll end up ever buying still-to-be-read manga without any logical end. In other words, you'll become a manga consumerist.
  • They are unlikely to have a great resale value. I don't see any manga millionaires out there.
  • The storyline might have an unexpected dark twist, or throw you a psychological curveball, or as very often does, simply lose its way or change so much as to lose its vibrancy which got you in the first place. You might end up with a half-completed series that you are invested in, including monetarily, which no longer delivers. And if you get psychologically blindsided, that might leave you feeling worse than you started with.
  • You might be on your way to becoming a hoarder.
  • If there's a fire, or water gets into your nicely ordered manga, you'll feel sorry for your lost volumes. Even if that never happens, the possibility might gnaw at you on the back of your mind.

 

I'm still looking for a way forward, but the best I have come with for anyone is simply going digital, sticking to lighthearted matter and waiting for a sale to stock up on the series you would want to read.

 

However the absolute best is finding some other hobby or just to stick with regular anime. It features most of the best stories, nowadays can be found legally for free or for a reasonable low price, and has the added bonus of having music and the voice acting, which, by the way, are what I'm liking best from this corner of the entertainment world. For our purposes, also it can be regularly consumed without much hassle or commitment.

 

If you, or myself for that matter, ever decide to buy physical, it is best to give up perfection, buy used, and don't bother giving the manga any special care beyond the bare minimum. You can't keep them from deterioration, forget about it.

 

Whatever the case, don't go to scanlation sites.

 

For more info on why manga can't be saved, watch this (this dude and his family seem like great folks!):