I read Kingyo used books from Viz’s IKKI imprint recently (sample chapters can be found here).
It’s about redemption through (used) manga. If the woman who works in the bookshop (the owner’s long-suffering grand-daughter) were a good deal more bright-eyed and bubbly, it could be like Aria substituting old manga series for Venice. Real manga are used as examples in this series — there’s an appendix describing the series and mentioning whether they’re out of print or still available in Japan (one of the highlighted series is Dr. Slump).
But she’s not Akari, nor even Aika. The series seems to be missing something. Or maybe out-of-print manga series just aren’t as compelling to newcomers as Neo-Venezia is. I imagine the book works better for an adult Japanese audience, for whom many of the series are probably remembered with fondness and nostalgia.
(That said, I am going to look for one of the series mentioned — a manga biography of Hokusai called Sarusuberi.)
The initial draw is books, and mostly it stays that way, except it doesn’t pull it off (and there’s a bit of clunker plot-element in the form of a young man obsessed with the Japanese Tintin). I think the first chapter is the one-shot that launched the series, and it is a fine short-story about reconnecting with old friends and reminiscing about old manga series. That has a certain charm that can reach a foreign audience unfamiliar with the specific works. Later we have a chapter about someone whose sour mood is cured by some old gag-manga series. But we’re not in on the joke because we’ve never seen the series. The hook isn’t baited for us.
The 84, Charing Cross Road of manga has yet to come to these shores, it seems.
The book ends with one-page overviews of the manga highlighted in each chapter. These are a real database animal addition, and rather charming (they’re written by a genuine used bookshop owner).
This book, with its bibliomanic characters, reminds me a bit of some of the gentler stories in Read or dream, the Read or die manga-spin-off about the three Paper Sisters. That series also had a nostalgic love for books and book-centric plots (a library that appears only once every ten years; a lost book containing a love-note), though it also had a great deal of silliness (the sisters foil an alien invasion).
Still, thank you, Viz, for bringing it over. Now translate Sarusuberi, please.