Manga Appreciation Week Smuggler Specialties

Manga Appreciation Week – An Introduction

A few weeks ago our buddy Karen Mahoney (A.K.A The Honorary Book Smuggler) contacted us asking if we wanted to read an ARC of a novel called Tarot Cafe – The Wild Hunt by her critique partner, Chandra Rooney. The book is an original novel based on the TAROT CAFE manga series. We did a bit of investigating and found out that the Manga series is a major success so we decided not only to read the novel but also the 7 volumes of the Manga. We then thought why not read other examples of Manga as well? Back in September we received an email from one of our readers suggesting us to read Vampire Knight so we decided to finally pick this up and voila the Manga (Manhwa) Appreciation Week was born.

First a caveat: we are new to Manga and this is our first real exploration of the format.

Ana has never read any Manga prior to reading the ones we are reviewing this week although she was not completely ignorant about the genre – there was plenty of review reading and information searching for the past few months. Most importantly she is completely nuts about the art which she is comfortable with by watching Anime TV shows when growing up. Most specifically she loved Don Dracula and Saint Seiya (also known as the Knights of the Zodiac) both based on original Manga publications.

Dragon Shiryu – Ana’s favorite character out of the Knights of the Zodiac.

Thea grew up in part in Japan, living in both Kobe and Fukuoka for over four years (third grade, then eighth to eleventh grade). For all that, and despite knowing how popular manga was, she had never really picked up and read an entire book (what, don’t look at Thea like that–do you have any idea how hard kanji is to read?). Thea remained interested in the genre though and has a deep love for some Anime (she loves Hayao Miyazaki), and so when she arrived in the United States and found tons of accessible, English translations of manga, she decided to give the genre a try!

For those that like us, are newbies -what do you need to know before we get going: that Manga are basically, Japanese comic books. A very successful format in Japan, widely read and with stories in many genres: from fantasy to horror, comedy to sex. Japanese Manga follow the Japanese pattern of writing from right to left which takes a bit of adapting from westerns readers. Manhwa, the South Korean equivalent to Manga (of which the Tarot Cafe series is an example) follows the westerns patterns of script from left to right.

Equipped with this very basic facts, we start:

Later today, Ana will post her review of the first volume of the Manga Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino.


On Tuesday, Ana reviews the first volume of the Manhwa Demon Diary illustrated by Kara and written by Lee Chi-hyong


and Thea reviews the Manga Death Note by writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata.


On Wednesday, Thea reviews Goth, a “light novel” by Otsu-ichi, that later was adapted into Manga (just to shake up things a little bit)


and Ana reviews the seven volume Manhwa series The Tarot Cafe by Park Sang-sun.


On Thursday, a joint review of the Tarot Cafe – The Wild Hunt, the companion novel written by Chandra Rooney and published on Jan 6th.


Friday , we interview Chandra Rooney about her experience writing the novel and you will have the chance to get a free copy of the book!

Sit back and enjoy!

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  • Karen Mahoney
    January 12, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Eeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! So exciting!

    I’m really looking forward to reading ALL of these reviews. Who knows? I might be adding more to my TBR stack… 😉

    Thanks for doing this great event, guys. I will pimp you on my LJ.

  • Graeme
    January 12, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Ooh… Death Note! You’ve just reminded me that I need to pick that up again (haven’t made it past volume one… 😳 )

  • KMont
    January 12, 2009 at 4:03 am

    This ought to be interesting. I have zero experience with Manga, but see it everywhere. Looking forward to this week here! If anyone can help me understand the genre, it’s you two!

  • Chandra
    January 12, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I love you guys so much for doing this.

    But you’ll understand if I maybe skip reading Thursday, right? 😉

    Thanks again!

  • Thea
    January 12, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Karen–Thank YOU for hooking us up and getting us off our lazy butts and finally foraying into manga! Really, it seems an awful waste that Ana and I are so pitifully read in the genre 😛

    Graeme–Death Note totally rocked. My review will be up tomorrow, but I recommend it! Er, the only problem is, there are 13 volumes in the series. Equals too much money for poor Thea to be spending on books right now. Sigh. (By the way, you got the coolest monster gravatar generated to your email addy! 😀 Awesome)

    Kmont–I hope you get a chance to try some manga after this week! Really, it’s a whole new frontier of books–I’m excited to get into the genre.

    Chandra–You’re very welcome! 😉 And you better stick around for Thursday (you have nothing to worry about, both Ana and I really enjoyed The Wild Hunt)!

  • Danielle
    January 13, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Pshh it’s about time!

    Try Sailor Moon!

  • Thea
    January 13, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Danielle–Ohmigosh, I used to love Sailor Moon when I was little. Actually I think I liked the one with red hair best (Sailor Jupiter? Something like that?). I used to watch the show, and my little sister had a Sailor Moon doll and everything when we used to live in Japan. Good times 😉 I’ll have to reconnect with the series!

  • Danielle
    January 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Ha, I think it’s Sailor Mars…

    I loved it when I was seven and I just fell for it again…love me some Tuxedo Mask 😀

  • Thea
    January 13, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    That’s it, Sailor Mars! LOL. 😳 I knew it was a planet. And Tuxedo Mask! I remember that guy!

    Aww. Ok, I’ll definitely have to youtube some of the anime :mrgreen:

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