Jason Thompson has over ten years’ experience as a manga editor, working at SHOHEN JUMP magazine and other publications. His writing has appeared in Animerica and The Comics Journal. www.delreybooks.com
This book has practically every Manga translated into English listed, along with synopsis and content ratings. If you are a hardcore Manga fan, or just a casual fan, this book will interest you and help you find titles that you may otherwise overlook. Most of the titles are available on Amazon, which is very convenient. However, my one gripe is the pot shots the author took at American comics. He puts Manga on a pedestal, and basically calls American comics nothing more than a corporate money grab. American and Japanese comics are no different. They are about good stories, good art, and getting paid.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A must for those new to MangaOct. 18 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
I first heard of this author and this book on the "Comic Geek Speak" podcast, (an excellent podcast by the way). I have been reading American comic books for over 25 years and had read very little Manga but was always interested. I was bit put off from some Manga because it either seemed juvenile or pornographic.
This book does a tremendous job in dispelling the image of Manga that many of us raised on American comics have about the genre. This book explains not only the history of Manga but the various types of Manga to the point where if you can't find something you'd like, you just didn't look hard enough. Plus there are over 900 reviews!
Don't like big-eyed teenage girls running around in skirts? Don't worry! There is a Manga series that caters to both men and women of every age group and interest. Horror, fantasy, occult, mystery, politics, sci-fi, sports, pets, martial arts, military, business people, etc...Whew! Without this book, the hundreds of titles and dozens of genres would be too much to try and piece together.
I'm sure many experienced Manga fans will disagree with some of his reviews but when you've read as many as the reviewer has, cliches are probably very easy to spot and quality easy to discern.
If you feel that your American Comics collection is getting a bit predictable or drab, or you just want to expose yourself to this art form, this book is a must for people absolutely new to the form.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The definitive guide to manga for parents, librarians, educators, students, fans...and pretty much everyone elseNov. 1 2007
Andrew W. Farago
- Published on Amazon.com
Thompson's book is an impressive achievement, and he's written the definitive "Everything You Ever Really Wanted to Know About Manga (But Had the Good Sense Not to Ask)" reference book. He provides coverage of every single manga that's been translated and made commercially available in the United States, which is a major undertaking by itself, and he goes the extra mile by including extensive essays on a variety of subjects ranging from basic Japanese culture to American fandom to the ins and outs of the publishing industry itself. Any librarian or educator who really wants to get a handle on what their kids are reading should do themselves a favor and order a copy. Manga fans themselves will want this just to keep track of the sheer number of comics that have been released since the 1980s, and to determine which ones are worth tracking down, and which should be avoided at all costs.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Good collection of and guide to licensed manga, inconsistent and mediocre ratings of titlesAug. 16 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
I picked up a copy of Manga: The Complete Guide, since I already owned an Anime version of this type of collection. Basically, it is a listing of every Japanese manga licensed in English (by early 2007) with a synopsis and a review, along with volume information and age ratings (though mistakes like the volume # for Hero Heel abound).
This volume also contains an introduction and afterward about Japanese comics (and even has a hiragana/katakana chart for reference), which are all very interesting and useful. The book succeeds as a reference guide to manga in general, but the separate yaoi section fails as a good guide for determining whether a series is worthwhile or not, and probably because this book was compiled mostly by men (presumably straight) who are not necessarily fans of the genre (the ratings seem to get lower the more graphic the series are...) and seem to prefer Viz shonen series (for which the author is an editor).
The book does list all of the active licenses up to last year (2007), except for being entirely lacking of any of the BL novels (aside from mentioning the OtRFK novels) or non-BL light novels, and not containing any Korean manwha titles, Chinese manhua, OEL (western graphic novels styled like manga) or cine-manga (picture manga based on anime series/movies). This is an English-licensed-Japanese-manga-only collection.
I wouldn't take the ratings to heart, especially since they go from 0 to 4 stars, which aside from being awkward are completely inconsistent. Naruto got 4 stars, but Fruits Basket, the greatest selling shojo manga in the US and Japan got 3.5. Bleach got 3 stars, though the review would lead you to believe it wasn't "that great" of a title. People expect a 5 star system (0 to 5, that is), especially since it gives you more to work with in differentiating between "bad" titles and "okay" titles. The top score should be reserved for the seminal works and there seemed to be just too many of them slapped on titles that only marginally deserved a high rating (Naruto, anyone?).
The yaoi section reviews were particularly abysmal, when there actually were reviews (many of the titles were left unrated). Some of the most celebrated BL titles of all time were snubbed: FAKE got 2 stars because the reviewer didn't like the artwork; Embracing Love got 4 stars while fellow BBGold signature titles Finder Series and Kizuna got 2.5 stars?! Other marginal titles got rave reviews: Wild Rock got 4 stars, and while not a bad series, the rating seems based on someone's personal feelings about the title and not its own merit.
The review and rating system would have better been served by extensive research of official published reviews for series and average manga fan reactions to them and not the personal and incosistent feelings of the people compiling this book. However, this is a good collection of information about past titles you might want to look into. This is one of those books that you'll want to look out for future editions of/additions to (since there are more and more titles being licensed every day). For the price, I would suggest finding this book on sale or used somewhere. The inconsistent ratings, errors and omissions (particularly of light novels and manwha) only garner this collection 3 stars. If it were available in an updatable e-book format I would recommend that instead.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Popularity equals quality?Aug. 18 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
It's a good reference to know new titles, but some (if not most) reviews are way off. The writer is not able to distinguish between his personal taste and the inherent quality of the works he reviewed. Also, he seems to think that popularity equals quality, giving high ratings for manga that aren't that good, despite being popular; 4 stars for Naruto comes to mind, 3 for Knights of Zodiac is just as bad.
The writer freely states when he believes some works use too much cliche, yet he fails to appoint the heavy usage of cliches in Naruto, for example. He even state that Sakura is a "unusually well written love interest". Now please, enlighten me on what's well written about Sakura.
Why the popular titles always get good ratings? I can't help but think this is done on purpose, just to please most readers. Another thing is that violent battle manga are usually given low ratings, with the exception of Berserk.
Overall the sections about manga styles and manga elements are concise and good, the best part of the book.
Seeing titles like Rurouni Kenshin and Hunter X Hunter with ratings lower or equal to Bleach and Naruto tell you that something is wrong. I suggest that you disregard the reviews, read only the manga premise and see if it interests you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Essential ReferenceJuly 14 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Several guides to manga were published in 2007-2008 but this is by far the most complete one. The coverage of titles is truly comprehensive -- although of course they are all manga, so that means no graphic novels, Korean manhwa, Original English Language manga, etc. Still, I have not been able to find a single manga title published in English before 2007 that this book doesn't have at least some information on. And since these series are published over a long time period and the U.S. publication dates lag behind the original Japanese publication dates by several years, this book is still in 2011 an up-to-date resource on most of the popular manga titles, except for the absolute newest ones.
The book is arranged in alphabetical order by title. Each entry includes the Japanese phonetic title, translation, and kanji title along with author's name. This is followed by the names of both the U.S. and the Japanese publishers and the different dates of publication in each country, as well as the name of the magazine it was originally serialized in, and the total number of volumes. My favorite detail is the category (shojo, shonen, josei, seinen, yaoi, yuri) as well as the genre (fantasy, crime, occult), followed by age ratings that include specific content notices (language, nudity, sexual situations). If you are a parent or librarian trying to decide whether a certain title might be appropriate to purchase for a child, this information is absolutely invaluable.
Last is the review and star rating. I love the fact that many of these are not just plot summaries but honest-to-goodness signed reviews that help gauge the quality of the plot and artwork, as well as place it in context. In general I agreed with most of the reviews and ratings. The titles that are not individually reviewed, especially the newer ones, still have descriptions.
As another reviewer noted, many of the yaoi and mature (including yuri) titles only have basic descriptions instead of reviews and therefore are not rated (perhaps 50%)...however, that still makes this far better than any other manga guide I have seen. Some ignore the yaoi/yuri/mature categories all together, or include only a handful of titles. This book is as close as you're going to get to a comprehensive listing. Also I like the fact that these titles are in a separate section in the back so that they're not mixed in with the titles for children.
Finally, my favorite part of this book is the subject-specific essays and recommendations. I have read other guides organized by genre, such as Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More (Genreflecting Advisory Series) and 500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide, but they include only the broadest of genres. This book includes genres that I have noticed but have never seen discussed elsewhere in print, such as cooking, games, music, pets, politics, etc. I especially appreciate the entry on josei manga, with the largest list of josei I have found. These essays appear in alphabetical order throughout the book, although you can also find them listed in the table of contents. The genre essays average about three pages in length and explain the history of the genre in manga and its relation to Japanese culture, followed by a quick list of titles that fall into that genre. For example, the "horror" genre article provides lists of recommended titles broken down into pure horror, action horror and vampire manga. The essay on "Occult and Religion" is the longest, at five pages, and includes listings of titles featuring angels, devils, Christian imagery, ghosts and shinigami. No other genre listing comes close to the depth and breadth of this resource.
In addition to all this, the introduction has a great history of manga in America, decade by decade, as well as an explanation of "what makes manga different." In the back are excellent articles further discussing issues such as age ratings, censorship, sexism, and race. I highly recommend this book as either a personal or professional reference for anyone who is interested in manga.