“Does Anyone Else Feel Like Buying Manga Every Day?” That’s the tweet that greeted me today when I opened my phone. For the record, the answer is “yes”. I do want to buy manga. I pretty much always want to buy manga even though I haven’t finished reading all the volumes physically in my house. Don’t even get me started on the manga repository currently on my tablet. There is no viable reason for me to buy more manga at this time. I’m running out of room!
And yet, not only do I definitely feel like buying some manga right now, but I’m also seriously considering buying more bookcases and maybe creating one of those fancy-looking manga bookcase arrangements with lights and stuff like I see in the pictures. Those are so pretty. I wonder if I can get a professional bookcase arranger to help me out…
The thing is, I haven’t always felt that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m generally a consumer and I’ve always liked books. They take up a lot of space but I find that a roomful of books is one of the most welcoming and calming environments. However, I’m not the type to just buy things to buy things and I don’t have a huge predisposition to collecting stuff. For a very long time, I was fine with just buying random volumes here and there once in a blue moon.
Eventually, my manga collection grew. I got to a point in my life where I was lucky enough to have a reasonable amount of disposable income and one of the ways I decided to put it to good use, was to get a decently sizeable manga haul. It was a mix of volumes from series I knew I wanted to read and collect and a bunch of volumes 1 from stuff I had never heard about but looked interesting. A sort of deluxe manga starter kit if you will. It was fun! I discovered a lot of manga I probably wouldn’t have otherwise and I loved having a bunch of books all of the exact same height on my shelves. Look, we all got issues, ok?
But that was fine. I got the haul, I slowly read through my manga and then that was it. I vaguely thought to myself that I should do that again at some point but I didn’t feel any pressing urge to get more. If I needed material for the blog, I had access to tons of digital manga through my VIZ subscription and a few things through Crunchyroll. I thought to myself, if I heard about a series that really captured my imagination, I could use that as an excuse to get a bunch more randoms at the same time. It was all very chill.
But then something changed… (I like to think that you are all going “duhn duhn DUHN” in your heads)
Because I had enjoyed discovering new manga, I started to be interested in what was available and what was coming out. I was already following a few blogs that reviewed manga but I also started following industry blogs to get spoilers on new releases. I started watching manga YouTubers who not only gave reviews but would often show you what the physical books looked like. And I started following a bunch of manga-related Twitter accounts. The latter two are really what made the difference.
Although it’s definitely not everyone, there seems to be a serious trend in both manga YouTube and manga Twitter to showcase “hauls” and collections. Every day, someone is shooting a video featuring half a dozen to several dozen books they have just received. It’s not even about reviewing them anymore as most of the time, the video is an unboxing and they haven’t read them yet. They just show you the books they bought and talk about the synopsis if they know it and say stuff like oh the cover art is so pretty.
I realize that the way I’m describing it sounds kind of bad. But I have to say, these videos can be a lot of fun to watch. Especially if the person filming them is entertaining. And there is this rush you get to share with them from discovering all these new manga. It’s a bit of a high. I understand why there are so many of these videos and why they are popular.
Twitter has similar things with threads filled with volumes that have just arrived at someone’s doorstep or, the thing that always fills me with jealousy, images of gorgeous rooms with floor to ceiling bookcases filled with manga and figures and other merch. Some of them are downright beautiful. The bookcases in themselves are pieces of art at that point.
I have to emphasize, that what I’m about to discuss isn’t any YouTuber or manga reviewer’s fault in any way. People that make and share such content are excited about an art form and industry that means a lot to them and want to share it with the world. It’s great. I occasionally share stuff like that as well. It makes you feel like you get to enjoy something with others and that makes it better.
But I do think there is an unexpected, and potentially unwanted side effect. And that’s this hoarding tendency that can develop in people when they are exposed to such content on a regular basis. Maybe it’s not something that affects you in any way. If so, that’s great! But for a lot of folks, there’s definitely this urge to consume more when you see everyone around you doing. That’s completely normal, we’re sort of wired that way. It’s something that I didn’t really get to experience when I was focusing more specifically on anime since streaming anime is just way more efficient for most people. A lot of folks don’t even have disc players anymore which makes anime hauls a considerably less popular style of content.
I mean, I see tons of people bemoaning that they can’t purchase more manga or that they can’t wait to get this series or that, while openly admitting that they haven’t finished the last series they purchased. I know younger people that can’t wait to move out on their own to have more room for their manga even though they’ll tell me about all these volumes they own that are just o.k. or not really their thing.
And I’m just as bad, if not worse. I went from being ever so chill about getting new manga to actively rearranging bookcases and buying more to fit manga I will read once. I regularly have more fun opening big boxes from RightStuf than reading the random volumes I decided to try. But I can’t deny that I really do love receiving new manga and occasionally, you discover a wonderful story and it makes it all worthwhile. It’s a rush seeing all those colourful covers and just imagining the potential they hold. Any one of them could transport me to a world I will treasure. And honestly, when you find a series you love, it really is a treasure.
However there might be something lost in the excess. Getting a handful of volumes a few times a year makes everyone one of them special. Buying manga every day pretty much ensures you’re going to forget half of it. Things just get lost in the shuffle. People tend to get used to things very fast and the wonder and rush you feel from getting your hands on a new series just isn’t the same when it happens literally all the time.
I didn’t write this post to say that hoarding manga is bad. Please don’t feel attacked if you have a huge collection. That’s really not the intent here. I want to have a huge collection myself and I’ll keep working towards that goal. But I do think there’s value in keeping in mind what we might be trading off. In really considering what we would like to purchase physically vs digitally or whether it’s time for a manga spree or you still want to finish some volumes.
I once ended up ordering a bunch of manga when I still had half a dozen or so volumes to read. My order came in way quicker than I expected so I still had maybe 3 I hadn’t opened. But I got excited about the new stuff so I started that and eventually forgot about the 3 left unread in my bookcase. It was many months and a few orders later that I finally realized that I had a bunch of manga at home I hadn’t even read. And that’s a bit sad, you know.