The conclusion

15 10 2008

Well, not a definitive one… I thought it would be worth writing a quick follow up on my seminar.

It’s been an interesting and intense introduction to writing for an audience that may know less about the topic then me (my classmates) and, simultaneously, much more (the online manga fandom community). I struggled with the tone a bit because I was intimidated by the idea that I was setting myself up as some sort of authority on the subject. I have my own predilections and biases and struggle with my inability to read Japanese out of context… Not much of an authority, really.

I would like to know more about manga as both creative and corporate industry in Japan and it’s history as well as the growth and convolutions of both Japanese and worldwide fandom (and fandom is by nature intense and complex, isn’t it?). Most academic writing I’ve found focuses on fandom in the United States but what about the relationship and hybridity, for example, between la bande dessinée and manga in France? It’s a bit of a challenge to talk about manga rigorously and lucidly but still convey the fun, energy and genius of the medium.

As for my classmates, I think many of them were pleasantly surprised to discover that shojo and shonen are not the only manga genres out there. I spent a bit of time talking about the basic aesthetics. It’s easy for me to forget how manga looks to the unacclimatized eye.

For the library geeks – Eva made a great comment based on my survey of a selection of 5 titles and their inclusion in the collections of four large public libraries. Was how they had been integrated in to each library’s collections and if the way they were cataloged an indication of how they were perceived and selected?

Vancouver Public Library had current and complete series of volumes of Nodame Cantabile, Nana and Suppli. Nodame Cantabile has been cataloged with a “YA FIC” call number and added to the “Young Adult Graphic” collections while Nana and Suppli were both given a “FIC” call number and placed in the “Adult Graphic and “Popular Reading Graphic” collections.

Toronto Public Library had current and complete volumes of Nana, Nodame Cantabile and Paradise Kiss and all were in the “Teen Graphic Books” collections with a “FICTION” call number.

New York Public Library didn’t have very comprehensive series coverage for any of these titles. Nana only seems to go up to v.6, Nodame Cantabile has a curious holdings gap between v.2 and v.14 and only v. 2 of Paradise Kiss is in the catalogue. Nana was included in both the “YA Graphic Novel” and “Graphic Novel” collections under the call number “GN FIC Y” and Nodame Cantabile was also in the “YA Graphic Novel” collection but with the call number “GN FIC N”. The single volume of Paradise Kiss was in the “Pop General Fiction” collection with the call number “GN FIC Y”.

Los Angeles Public Library has the greatest number of the titles from this survey in their collection. The only exception was Tramps Like Us. The volumes for each series were current and they are all given the Dewey call number “740.9999” (740 is “drawing and decorative arts” but I don’t know what the subfield 9999 stands for) with a Cutter number for author. I’m not that familiar with Dewey so I’m probably missing some of the cataloging methodology at work here…

Vivianne commented that the Winnipeg Public Library had copies of Nana, Paradise Kiss and Tramps Like Us(!). Nana and Paradise Kiss were current and both in the “Adult Graphic Novel” collection. However, only v.1 and 2 of Tramps Like Us were in the catalog – oddly, in the “Young Adult Graphic Novel” and “Adult Reference” collections(?) Again, I may be missing something in the methodology here…

Based on this review I find it hard to draw any definite conclusions. Each library seems to have dealt with manga, and graphic novels in general, slightly differently. It does seem that the more solid and comprehensively applied a library’s methodology for purchasing and processing manga the more likely it is that there will be a large, diverse and complete collection. Makes sense.

It was great to get so many helpful and friendly comments from the wider community – thanks everyone! It’s really encouraged me to do my best to keep posting!

Images: panel from Yotsubato! by Kiyohiko Azuma, character art from Usagi Drop by Yumi Unita

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