Thursday, July 10, 2014

Manga: The complete guide


Whether you’re new to the world of manga-style graphic novels or a longtime reader on the lookout for the next hot series, here’s a comprehensive guide to the wide, wonderful world of Japanese comics!

• Incisive, full-length reviews of stories and artwork
• Titles rated from zero to four stars–skip the clunkers, but don’t miss the hidden gems
• Guidelines for age-appropriateness–from strictly mature to kid-friendly
• Profiles of the biggest names in manga, including CLAMP, Osamu Tezuka, Rumiko Takahashi, and many others
• The facts on the many kinds of manga–know your shôjo from your shônen
• An overview of the manga industry and its history
• A detailed bibliography and a glossary of manga terms


[From the publisher's web site]

There are already plenty of reference books on manga (Schodt’s Manga Manga & Dreamland Japan, Gravett’s Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics, Taschen’s Manga Design, or Koyama-Richard’s One Thousand Years of Manga—just to name a few) but we were still lacking a manga “encyclopedia” in English (there’s already one in French and in Italian). With Manga: The Complete Guide we’re finally getting a detailed and voluminous bibliographical listing of all manga published in English.

The book starts with an introduction to manga: what manga is, a brief history, its demographic, etc. The core of the book is the guide itself: over a thousand alphabetical entries of manga titles (plus over two hundred adult and yaoi entries in two separate sections at the end). In fact, the guide is more a compilation of reviews than a real encyclopedia: it does offer a bibliographical notice (including the official English title, Japanese title, author(s), English-language & original Japanese publishers, number of volumes, genre, and age rating), but most of each entry is dedicated to a short description and a commentary (punctuated by a four-star ranking system). Spread inside the listing, you also find thirty-eight articles developing on the various thematic or type of manga (comedy, cooking, crime, fantasy, etc.). The book concludes on two appendices explaining the age ratings and the basics of the Japanese language, a glossary, a bibliography and an artist index (listing their date of birth, titles, and sometime a web page or biographical notice—only eighteen mangaka have a proper notice).

Manga: The Complete Guide is certainly quite exhaustive, but it could have offered even more. I noticed a few missing titles—like Mangajin’s Mr. Benihana: The Rocky Aoki Story or Tezuka’s adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment published in English by The Japan Times—but that’s understandable, as such a work cannot be perfect. However, I would have liked to see more illustrations and more biographical notices. Also, I know it’s not realistic, but I wish we had a really complete manga reference, listing all manga (or at least all the notable and popular ones), even untranslated titles. Nevertheless Manga: The Complete Guide is certainly the best manga reference in the western world—so far. Whether you just want to know more about manga or are an avid manga reader, this book is an essential reference.

Manga: The Complete Guide, by Jason Thompson. New York: Del Rey/Ballantine Books (Random House), 2007. 556 pp., paperback, $19.95 US / $24.95 CDN, ISBN 978-0345485908. Recommanded for teenagers (12+).
For more information:

A version of this article was previously published in PA #97: 77.

Manga: The complete guide © 2007 by Jason Thompson.

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