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November 1, 2010

Bento Bako Weekly: Kingyo Used Books vol. 2

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Kingyo Used Books
Author: Seimu Yoshizaki
Publisher: Viz Media (Sig IKKI)
Volume: Volume 2 (ongoing), $12.99
Vintage: 2005 by Shogakukan in Japan, October 2010 by Viz Media
Genre: Slice-of-life, romance, comedy, educational

See my review of volume 1 here.

Kingyo Used Books is a collection of stories based around the employees and customers of a used manga bookstore. Manga isn’t just for women or kids, but for people from all walks of life. Anybody can find a manga that speaks to them, and that’s the heart of Kingyo Used Books. Volume 2 focuses a little more on interim store manager Natsuki and her sometimes co-worker Shiba, but also features stories of longtime and newcomer manga fans, and how manga has affected their lives. “His View” uses Osamu Tezuka’s Adolf to teach a high school boy that it’s impossible to be anyone other than who you are. “Yes or No” goes back in time to when the sedori (someone who buys and sells manga for profit) Okadome became a regular patron of Kingyo Used Books and first met Shiba. Shiba’s intense love for manga helps Okadome realize that manga isn’t simply divided up into books that sell and books that don’t sell. A hostess named Anzu learns how to see through to new, interesting worlds by reading manga to a little girl in “The Other Side of the Window.” Shiba tries to cheer up Natsuki when the store’s sales are low, and Natsuki is surprised when her friends show up to help at a local book fair in “A Bundle of Papers.” A visit from Natsuki’s father causes chaos for Natsuki and the lovelorn Shiba in “Dad Again,” as her father arrives to convince Natuski to come home and search for a husband, while in the middle of an argument with his own wife. Meanwhile, Okadome and Koshino find someone to take over a beloved bookstore before it’s shut down. A young man who is concerned about projecting a tough guy appearance learns what it means to be part of the one percent who don’t fit into the mold of the perfect macho man, and that a real man is one who is always true to himself in “One Percent Man.” Finally, a group of young boys search for an escape by reading Galaxy Express 999 in a homemade club house hidden at their school, and two of them go on a journey by train, trying to experience a journey to a far off world in “Star Traveler.” A bonus story, part two of “Billy and Grandpa’s Curious Travelogue,” has Grandpa creating a romantic story about a mundane printed symbol on a publisher’s books to appease a small girl. And, of course, the book wraps up with the “Kingyo Used Books Notebook,” which gives detailed information on the major manga titles featured in this volume.

Unlike the first volume, which focused a lot on outside characters, and was more of a lecture on older manga, volume 2 of Kingyo Used Books spends some time developing the main cast. The format of matching a manga title to the current tribulations of a character remains, but it’s a little less scattered in terms of the book’s flow and the linear story. Unfortunately, something seems a little off about this volume. I’m not sure if it’s the paneling, the pacing, or the translation…or just that I was tired when I read it initially. Sometimes what I was reading just wasn’t making any meaningful sense, or I had to go read the manga informational notes at the back of the book to understand why or how a character was moved by a particular book. This shouldn’t be necessary; it should be clear while reading that specific chapter, even without¬†in depth¬†knowledge of the manga being used. Due to the extra focus on Natsuki and Shiba, this volume is a bit sillier than the last, but in a pleasant way. It’s nice to read a manga that sort of educates you on the history of the medium without feeling that you’re being lectured to in some way, or reading a textbook instead of a comic.

Later this week: November Previews manga highlights and a Yen Press double feature.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



  1. Jade

    I definitely think this volume’s stories were better than the first, but like Kate and I were talking about regarding her review of this volume, there’s a sense of childishness surrounding everything that I think makes it hard for a real comic fan to relate to the book, I think. Adults in the story only love manga because it reminds them of their childhood or they can relate the books to their lives in childish ways. If it was hard to relate to a character being moved by a manga, I think it was because the author chose to frame those feelings from a perspective that it was juvenile nostalgia, which you and I just can’t relate to as thinking…um…otaku scholars? Haha, ok, maybe I take these things a little too seriously, but still.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Comic Attack, Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: New #manga review: Kingyo Used Books vol 2 from @Viz_Media https://comicattack.net/2010/11/bbwkingyobooks2/ @comicattack […]

  3. Oh, I can definitely see that. It didn’t really dig into my head before, but now that you mention it, I’m recalling those stories. You guys are right; it is presented as a nostalgia thing, to remind readers of their childhood, etc. Which…is a little weird. If manga is for everyone, why is it only good for reminding us of our youth? Why can’t adults read adult stories? Although, I think the use of Adolf in this issue with the high school student was an example of a young person using manga to help himself grow. So maybe it won’t all be like that. This is only the second volume, after all.

  4. Jade

    What’s even stranger about it is that this story itself is so obviously intended for adults. Why create a story for adults that presents manga as a childish experience? Maybe the story is intended to broaden the horizons of a close-minded audience that thinks manga is just for kids, but that audience wouldn’t be reading manga, let alone pick up an issue of Ikki. What are you trying to do, Yoshizaki? Who are you writing Kingyo Used Books for???

    I do have to point out that I think the book scouts are totally rad though. I want to read a series about them hunting down rare manga.

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