Last night I started learning French. Why? Because I want to read manga.
This all started earlier in the year, when I noticed how a lot of English-translated anime and manga were going out of print. And when stuff goes out of print, it either gets expensive (often ridiculously so) or just totally disappears.
I was always aware of this happening, but it never seemed to effect me. I just assumed my favourites would always be there, ready for dispatch when I decided to come calling. We live in the modern world, after all.
Earlier this year, then, I decided to make good on my intention to own Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame! manga. It’s a 10-volume science fiction opus about a guy trapped inside an ever-expanding sky-scraper. I’ve loved it for years and re-read it often enough for it to be worth my shelf-space. Decision-made.
It’d slipped my mind that Tokyopop imploded in 2011.
You know you’ve been an anime fan for a long time when you see publishers disappear. Tokyopop, ADV, Bandai Entertainment and Geneon: the list goes on. What’s clear is that the publishers of fringe material like anime have a finite lifespan and are often built on the strength of one or two peoples’ passion, and when that inevitably wanes, so, indeed, does the publisher itself. Tokyopop is a prime example of a company that lived and died on the arbitrary whims of a guy who simply lost interest in what he was doing.
What’s my point? Blame! was published by Tokyopop and I’d foolishly waited too long to buy the flippin’ thing. My girlfriend stalked the isles of Canada’s finest comic-book shops and dug up 8 of the 10 volumes for reasonable prices, but volumes 4 and 6 have since been impossible to find. I could buy them online, but then we’re talking £60 and £90 for volumes 4 and 6 respectively. I’m tempted to just pay up and be done with it, but my God, that’s expensive.
Thus, I’m learning French. I can buy these 2 volumes for £10 combined from a French publisher and won’t have to feel like I’m being ripped off. I just need to be able to understand the language! Last night, I learnt that “Je suis un garçon” means “I am a boy.” “Je bois” is “I drink.”
Since I’m now scared of missing out on more favourites, I’ve finally fulfilled my destiny of becoming a pure and utter consumer. Last week, I imported DVD collections of Kaiba and Trapeze from Australia, bought all 6 of the volumes released so far of the fantastic horror manga Dorohedoro and devoured my pre-order of Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) volume 1.
I doubt any of these will still be in print in 10 years, so we need to take a long-view here, guys. This isn’t me telling you what to do with your money, it’s more just a warning. Your favourite anime and manga won’t be around forever (particularly if you like weird shit like me.)