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May 24, 2010

Bento Bako Weekly: Kingyo Used Books vol. 1

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Kingyo Used Books
Author: Seimu Yoshizaki
Publisher: Viz Media, on the Sig IKKI imprint
Volume: Volume 1, $12.99
Vintage: 2004 by Shogakukan in Japan, serialized in IKKI magazine, April 2010 by Viz Media
Genre: The title is classified in the seinen genre, which are titles geared toward young male readers ages 18-30 (and up).  It’s got a bit of humor, some drama…it’s rather slice of life.  It’s difficult to really put a label on it, because it sort of transcends that (well, except that it’s definitely not action oriented).

Kingyo Used Books is a collection of stories revolving around a used manga bookstore.  The store has shelves stacked to the ceiling with manga, and a huge basement full of even more books.  It’s owned by an eccentric old man, but mostly run by his granddaughter, Natsuki, and occasionally haunted by manga-obsessed co-worker Shiba.

The stories included in volume 1 all have the same basic message told in different ways.  Each story is a reminiscence of past memories, or a tale of forging new relationships, or of being somehow inspired by the manga medium…or all three.  The back cover of the book does a good job describing what is included in each chapter (though it doesn’t cover all of them), but I’ll go ahead and outline it quickly anyway.  In “The Components of Memory,” a former manga fan decides that he’s outgrown his collection and wants to sell it all to Kingyo.  “Hokusai Manga” is about an art student inspired by an ukiyo artist (17th-20th century woodblock art, the precursor of manga).  In “Far Away,” a frustrated archery student regains his focus by reading a gag manga.  “The Boy Detective Arrives” is a story about one of the main characters, who was so inspired by an old detective manga, that he decided to become a detective, too.  “A Country Without Manga” tells the tale of a man so overwhelmed by all things manga, that he tried to escape to a country where it didn’t exist, only to find it there in another form.  “Fujiomi-kun” is a tale about a housewife, who relives falling in love with her husband when she rediscovers a manga she enjoyed in her youth.  “The Sedori Business” follows a woman who buys and sells manga for profit (she buys from one store and sells to another), but who still places personal value of the books above making money.  The last chapter, “Billy and Grandpa’s Curious Travelogue, Episode 1,” is a short story about Grandpa Seitaro and Billy (the detective) searching for rare manga.  The last few pages of the book, called “Kingyo Used Books Notebook,” contain detailed information on the featured manga title from each chapter.

The stories basically speak about the impact the medium can have on a person.  Manga can make you laugh and cry, it can inspire you and teach you.  The title also takes it a bit further, saying that just because it’s a comic book, that doesn’t mean it can’t be as genuine as anything else.  That it’s not something just for kids, but something anyone of any age or situation can enjoy.  So when someone tells you, “Hey, what are you reading a comic book for?  Are you a kid or something?”, you can show them Kingyo Used Books.

The title is a nice look at the history of manga as well.  Each chapter focuses on a specific title (though they also mention others, briefly noted in the margins with footnotes), and there’s a decent sized description of the featured manga titles at the back of the book, like a little history lesson of the industry, written by Hiroshi Hashimoto.  I’m unclear about what his connection to the book is, but perhaps he helped with research for the story as a used bookstore owner.  A note toward the back of the book says “Hashimoto was asked to write this column when being interviewed for information for this series.”

This is a semi-serious title, but the stories are told in a lighthearted way.  The art is clean and sharp, and quite pleasing to look at.  It’s easy to read, though there are a handful of editing issues in the text.  The margin footnotes are unobtrusive, though you do often have to twist the book around to read them.  The design of the book is very nice, oversize with inner flaps on the cover, and with a couple nice color pages in the front.  A solid read for any manga fan, new or old.

You can preview the title online at SIGIKKI.com.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



  1. Billy

    Sounds like a good read Kris. One of those “get away from all the action” books. 😛

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by VIZ Media, Comic Attack, Kristin Bomba, Comic Attack, Comic Attack and others. Comic Attack said: RT @VIZ_Media: Thanks to @ComicAttack for the nice #MangaMonday write-up on Kingyo Used Books! http://j.mp/bcn6NI […]

  3. Kristin

    Yeah, it was definitely good for that.
    It’s a really good history lesson, too.

  4. […] It My All… Tomorrow (ICv2) Bill Sherman on Isle of Forbidden Love (Blogcritics) Kristin on vol. 1 of Kingyo Used Books (Comic Attack) Briana Lawrence on Kiss Your Hair (Mania.com) Snow Wildsmith on vols. 1 and 2 of […]

  5. […] It My All… Tomorrow (ICv2) Bill Sherman on Isle of Forbidden Love (Blogcritics) Kristin on vol. 1 of Kingyo Used Books (Comic Attack) Briana Lawrence on Kiss Your Hair (Mania.com) Snow Wildsmith on vols. 1 and 2 of […]

  6. […] Used Books, vol. 2, by Seimu Yoshizaki.  (See my review of volume 1 here.)  Another collection of tales about the workers and patrons of Kingyo Used Books.  October 2010, […]

  7. […] See my review of volume 1 here. […]

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