Experiments in Manga at Manga Bookshelf

Experiments in Manga has joined Manga Bookshelf! The site will no longer be updating at Blogger, so if you have bookmarks in place you may want to update them to http://experimentsinmanga.mangabookshelf.com/. Although I won’t be removing the old site, all of the content and comments have been moved to the new one. I’m hoping to make the transition as smooth as possible but I still have a bit of tidying up to do. I’ve tried my best to get everything to redirect properly, but if you notice anything missing or strange please do let me know. Thanks for your help and thanks for sticking with me! And now:

A huge welcome to new readers of Experiments in Manga and an even bigger thank you to returning readers!

My name is Ash Brown. I’m a musician by training, a librarian by profession, a blogger by choice, and a manga addict by nature. My interest in Japan and Japanese culture actually extends far beyond manga and includes other literature, art, music, language, food, and probably anything else you can imagine. I practice traditional Okinawan karate-do (specifically Shōrin-ryū and Shūdōkan) as well as kobujutsu. I also happen to be a member of a taiko ensemble. Oh, and I love riichi mahjong. I’m pretty bad at it, though.

My day job has absolutely nothing to do with manga (although once I did catalog a collection of underground and independent comics; that was pretty cool.) Experiments in Manga is a personal site that I write and maintain entirely in my free time. I would actually like to write more than I do, but unfortunately that free time is very limited. Besides, I like to spend some of my waking hours actually reading, too.

I started Experiments in Manga in 2010 (mostly for myself) as a way to interact with the manga blogging community to a greater extent and to help keep track of all the manga that I read. And I read a lot of manga. Depending on who you ask I either have a very eclectic taste or no taste at all. I’m extremely open-minded and difficult to offend. I read and enjoy manga from just about every genre and aimed at any demographic or audience.

What can you expect from Experiments in Manga? Typically, I release three or four posts a week, including the weekly My Week in Manga feature. I also write in-depth reviews, among other things. Not surprisingly, the primary focus of Experiment in Manga is on manga but I also cover Japanese literature and write about tangentially related subjects and other things that interest me as well. I currently hold a monthly manga giveaway which allows me to quite literally share my love of manga. It also gives me an excuse to make lists. I love lists.

I am absolutely delighted to be joining the Manga Bookshelf Battle Robot. I’ve been a devoted reader of Manga Bookshelf since I discovered the site and some of my most admired manga bloggers are associated with the group. I consider it a great honor to be invited to join. I’m truly looking forward to working with everyone at Manga Bookshelf and hope that readers (new and old) will find Experiments in Manga at least occasionally interesting or useful!

Random Musings: Three Years of Experiments in Manga

Three years? Three years?! Three years ago today I began writing at Experiments in Manga in an attempt to share my love of manga and Japanese literature. Well, to be perfectly honest I started the blog for myself, but I am delighted that other people have on occasion found it to be helpful and interesting. It’s been a lot of work and I certainly have plenty of room for improvement, but I have largely been enjoying myself. I’m rather pleased that I’ve been able to keep the blog going this long.

So what am I particularly proud of looking back on the year? One of my biggest accomplishments was hosting the Moyoco Anno Manga Moveable Feast. I’ve been regularly participating in the Feast since December 2010, but this was only the second time that I acted as host. It wasn’t quite as nerve-wracking as the first time, but I was still very anxious about it. I like to think that it went well. Not as many people participated in the Feast as did in the first one I hosted, but the contributions were great.

I don’t tend to get very personal in my posts at Experiments in Manga, but I made one notable exception last year—Random Musings: A Note of Thanks for Wandering Son. This article was very difficult for me to write because it was so extremely and intimately personal. I had no idea what the response to it would be. Much to my relief, it was very well received. As nervous as I was, I ended up being very glad that I put myself out there writing it.

Another post from the last year of Experiments in Manga that seemed to go over well was Finding Manga: Right Stuf. Finding Manga and the closely related Discovering Manga are two features that I’ve really been meaning to update more frequently. I’ll have to make a point to try to do that over the next year. I tend to focus on reviews at here at Experiments in Manga, but it’s fun to mix it up every once in a while, too.

Two of my reviews from the past year have been particularly popular. My review for The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame: The Master of Gay Erotic Manga has been, by far, one of the most frequently visited pages at Experiments in Manga in the blog’s entire history. I was pretty excited about the manga—the first volume of Tagame’s work to be released in English—so hopefully the review has been useful. I was rather surprised to see how popular my review of Tomoyuki Hoshino’s volume of short fiction We, the Children of Cats proved to be. The review did receive some support from the publisher, so that probably helped. We, the Children of Cats is a difficult but very good collection.

And speaking of reviews: I continued my Blade of the Immortal review project. Every month I have been reviewing one volume of the series. Although Blade of the Immortal is still being published in English, I have just about caught up with Dark Horse’s release. I will continue to review the series as the new volumes come out, but I plan on taking on another monthly review project as well. I’ll be putting it to a vote, too, so look out for a poll in the near future if you’d like to help choose which manga I focus on next.

Over the last year I was able to consistently release at least two “extra” posts a month. This pace has seemed to work pretty well for me and tends to be manageable. I still run into the problem where there’s more that I want to write about but I simply don’t have the time. In general, my coverage of manga has increased and I post at least one manga-centric feature or review a week. At this point the balance between manga posts and non-manga posts is close to where I want it, but I may have over-compensated a bit. I miss reading and reviewing non-manga materials to the same extent that I used to do.

Oh! And some big news before I close: I am very pleased to announce that I and Experiments in Manga will soon be joining the Manga Bookshelf network of blogs. I was greatly honored and very excited to be invited to the group and after much careful thought and deliberation I decided to accept. Not much will actually change here at Experiments in Manga, but by being a member of Manga Bookshelf I’ll have even more opportunities to write about and discuss manga. More information about the move will be coming very soon. I am really looking forward to it and am delighted to be joining a group of manga bloggers that I sincerely admire.

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, I would like to thank everyone who has read and supported Experiments in Manga over the years. As I previously mentioned, I started Experiments in Manga mostly for myself, but I sincerely appreciate all of my readers. Whether you’re a regular reader or just drop by on occasion, thank you so much! I hope that I can continue to build upon what I’ve already done and make Experiments in Manga even better over the coming year.

Random Musings: Two Years of Experiments in Manga

Two years of Experiments in Manga? Some days it seems like I just started writing, and other days it seems like I’ve been doing this forever. In the grand scheme of things, I suppose two years really isn’t that long, but it’s still an accomplishment. I do get discouraged from time to time, but for the most part, I am quite pleased with my work over the last year. Although there’s certainly room for improvement, I think I’ve done all right.

Probably the one thing that I am most proud of from the past year was the Usamaru Furuya Manga Moveable Feast. I have been regularly participating in the Manga Moveable Feast since beginning Experiments in Manga, but this was the first time that I actually hosted the event. It was nerve-wracking, and I stressed out about it, but ultimately it was a great experience. I’ve even volunteered to host again. The Furuya Feast also resulted in another first for Experiments in Manga: An Examination and Appreciation of the Works of Usamaru Furuya was the first, and so far only, guest post that I’ve had the pleasure to host. It actually gets more page hits than a lot of my own work.

I have had popular posts of my own, though. One post that people seem to find particularly useful is about podcasts that feature manga. This was actually a continuation of another podcast post that I wrote during the first year of Experiments in Manga. Both of these posts continue to be very popular. Another big hit was the result of my love of making lists and the publication of Paul Gravett’s 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die: The Ultimate Guide to Comic Books, Graphic Novels and Manga. I put together a spreadsheet of the comics from Japan that were included in the book. I had a tremendous amount of fun compiling the information. It’s a useful resource that I continue to refer to myself. And I do try to keep it up to date as more of the the titles in the list are licensed.

Right now, Experiments in Manga mostly consists of reviews and the My Week in Manga feature, but I’d like to try to incorporate more variety in the future. This past year I made a point to make Library Love a bimonthly feature in order to make sure that I actually got around to writing it. On the “off” months, I try to include some sort of other feature that isn’t a review, whether that be Random Musings on one subject or another, or less frequently a post about Discovering Manga or Finding Manga. I like writing these non-review posts and really should try include more.

I did post two reviews that for one reason or another seemed to draw some attention: Rohan at the Louvre and Welcome to the N.H.K. They were posted within days of each other, so maybe it was just a matter of good timing. Whatever the reason, I was particularly pleased with how these reviews turned out. The translator of Welcome to the N.H.K. even stopped by to comment. I like to think that my reviews have been improving the more that I write. There are certainly plenty that only turn out okay, but I do think in general the quality of Experiments in Manga has been improving.

Speaking of reviews, I have increased the number of in-depth manga reviews that I write each month. This is primarily the result of my project to review one volume of Blade of the Immortal each month. I’m just about halfway through the series (at least of what’s available in English so far) and have a little over a year of reviews left to go. Focusing on a single series has been an interesting experience. Once I’m done with Blade of the Immortal I’ll probably pick another manga to receive the same treatment. Most likely it will end up being a shorter series. I might even put it up for a vote.

There is so much that I want to write about that I’m considering upping the number of posts I write each month. Actually, over the past year I’ve already been consistently including about one “extra” post a month and sometimes more. The problem is the more I write, the less time I have to read, which in turn means that I have less to write about. Experiments in Manga is written entirely in my free time, so I’ll need to find a balance that works, but I would like to start writing more.

Finally, I would like to thank all of my readers out there. Although I started Experiments in Manga mostly for myself, I very am glad that other people have found it useful and maybe even enjoyable on occasion. Thanks for sticking with me through it all or even just dropping by every once in a while. I hope I can continue to improve what I’m doing here at Experiments in Manga. Cheers, and thank you all!

Random Musings: One Year of Experiments in Manga

Today marks the first anniversary of Experiments in Manga! It’s a little hard for me to believe that it’s already been a year since I started this blog. But at the same time, I know that I’ve put a lot of work into it. There have been some bumps along the way, and the site is far from perfect, but I’m pretty happy with how far I’ve come since beginning Experiments in Manga. So, please indulge me while I reflect a bit upon the past year.

I’ve settled into a pretty consistent schedule here at Experiments in Manga, managing to post at least three times a week and occasionally more. Mondays feature My Week in Manga and the other two posts during the week (normally seen on Wednesdays and Fridays) feature a variety of other things. Mostly reviews, giveaways, and other randomness. At one point, I felt a little guilty about the number of in-depth reviews that I post for non-manga material, but I recently stopped to think about this again. Back in November 2010, I set a goal for myself to review at least two manga a month. I have successfully met this goal ever since, which means that roughly a third of my reviews have been for manga. I’ve decided to count this as a win since I find reviewing manga even more difficult than reviewing non-manga.

Some of my most successful posts actually aren’t my reviews. The first post that seemed to really hit it big was Random Musings: Gay for You? Yaoi and Yuri Manga for GBLTQ Readers. I was rather nervous about writing the post, but there was a great response to it and ultimately I was very proud of myself. Another post that ended up being rather popular was Finding Manga: Borders. Unfortunately, seeing as Borders is currently undergoing liquidation, the post won’t be useful for much longer. Although not as wildly successful, my post Random Musings: Mahjong, Kubota, and Wild Adapter was well-received, too. That made me very happy since I happen to be particularly fond of that post (it gave me an excuse to write about mahjong, for one).

The Wild Adapter piece was written as part of the Manga Moveable Feast. I’ve been participating the Feast since December and have only missed one month so far. (I even volunteered to host for January 2012’s Feast.) I’m pretty pleased with myself since one of the reasons I started Experiments in Manga was to participate more fully in the online manga community. To that extent, I also established a more-or-less monthly giveaway. Usually, the giveaway begins on the last Wednesday of the month and the winner is announced the following Wednesday. I’ve had fun with those.

I seem to have managed to establish a small but consistent readership for Experiments in Manga. I am absolutely thrilled by this. (A huge thanks to MangaBlog for including me in link roundups.) I write the content for Experiments in Manga completely in my spare time, which I don’t have much of. Features come and go, some posts are of better quality than others (some really aren’t that good at all), and I’m definitely still learning. But overall, I am fairly satisfied with what I have accomplished so far and have enjoyed myself. I hope to continue to improve and that Experiments in Manga will only get better from here. Enough of my ramblings for now. Thank you all for your reading and encouragement!

Announcing Experiments in Manga!

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and have finally gotten around to doing it. Please allow me introduce you to my newest site, Experiments in Manga!—devoted to my encounters with manga, Japanese literature, and other topics that may or may not actually have anything to do with anything. Unlike my other site Experiments in Reading, which is strictly review-only, I anticipate Experiments in Manga being a more interactive, flexible, and informal way for me to connect with the online manga community.

Oh, there will still be reviews, not only of manga but of other books as well. In fact, I’ve already taken the liberty of populating Experiments in Manga with reviews originally posted at Experiments in Reading. This includes my embarrassingly atrocious and mostly useless “reviews” of Osamu Tezuka’s Adolf written before I even knew what the hell manga was. (I really need to revisit those books—they were my very first manga and deserve a better write-up. Plus, you know, it’s a great series.) I will continue to cross-post and modify relevant reviews from Experiments in Reading here.

Since I currently read far more manga than I formally review, I also plan on providing brief commentary on the manga that I’m reading in addition to the more in-depth reviews. There will be a weekly My Week in Manga feature which will include quick takes on manga, links to interesting things that I’ve found online, and general randomness. Additional recurring features are also in the works, such as Discovering Manga (focusing on where I learn about manga) and the closely related Finding Manga (focusing on, well, finding manga). I expect that there will be all sorts of different kinds of posts showing up here and I hope to participate in other manga related projects as well.

I do not claim to be an expert. There are far more knowledgeable and well-versed manga enthusiasts out there than me. So, I’ve made sure to include a page for resources which lists other sources of news and reviews, publisher websites, and retailers. It’s rather small at the moment, but I expect this page will continue to grow. Also, if you’d like to be added to the listings or something’s missing (or wrong), please just let me know!

I’m very excited to be launching Experiments in Manga and welcome any comments, feedback, and discussion. I look forward to interacting with the online manga community to a greater extent (though I am admittedly more of a lurker) and hope that others will find Experiments in Manga at least occasionally interesting. And if not, well, so it goes—at least I’ll have fun doing it.