On Manga, and Finding Diamonds in the Rough

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved reading manga. I used to spend hours at bookstores and libraries marathoning through series after series, taking out massive stacks of books from the library. When I discovered scanlations, I was hooked. I would read series after series, from the popular to the obscure. I’ve always chalked up my preference for manga over anime to how easy it is to read through a manga series, vs. watching an anime. But there’s another reason, and a far more important one: How easy it is to find diamonds in the rough.

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Even the most obscure anime is going to have a full production staff, budget, voice actors, and advertising of some kind. It passes through enough hands and needs to be approved by enough people that many interesting ideas will be filtered out, in favor of safer and more reliable ideas. In the end, much of what gets released will be designed by committee to maximize profit.

Things are a bit different with manga, however.

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The comparatively low cost of manga production and increased number of possible avenues of release means there’s far more freedom for authors to try weird and different things, or to create a series that would never be approved as an anime. From major weekly magazines to self-published doujinshi, there’s a far greater variety of manga than there is of anime.

Sometimes this isn’t a great thing, as ideas which maybe should have been filtered out get approved and launched into a full series. But many of the worst of these ideas still make it into major anime regardless, as they are often what tends to sell best.

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For those looking for something different, however, it’s a huge boon. Browsing through more obscure manga can often result in finding great works by more talented artists, which have gone for the most part ignored or undiscussed.

I’ve written about some of these in the past, and hope to write about more in the future. I’m always happy to find a good series that has not yet hit the mainstream, and even happier to share it with people and get others interested in it.

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At the end of the day, many people will still prefer the experience of watching anime over manga. But for me, I will continue to love and enjoy manga, and the experience of hunting down and sharing good hidden works. Because there are truly some diamonds hidden in the rough.

Image credits:

1. Kuneru Maruta Kuutei Dragons by Takao Jingu

2. Nickelodeon by Dowman Sayman

3. Helck by Nanao Nanaki

4. Made in Abyss by Tukushi Akihito

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