It's kind of funny how things like August's power outage change your perspective or put dents in your normal routines. In my area we had to deal with it for about eight hours, which I am told was actually pretty good considering most places didn't see power until daybreak. Perhaps the best description I could give of the blackout on August 14th is that it was surreal and historic—but in an amusing sense, as opposed to the tragic sense that 9/11 offered us two years ago.
It was funny though, that day I had my evening more or less planned out. It was one of my rare off-days from work, and I had wanted to spend my evening watching the latest Master Keaton
DVD. My trusty laptop was fully charged and ready to go, so even the power outage wasn't going to put a dent in that plan. Strange enough though, as darkness started to set in, it wasn't the DVD that came off my shelf; it was a book.
One of the major upsides of working is that you're able to enjoy some of the small luxuries in life (beyond paying for things like food, rent, and electricity...oops). The downside is that you're so busy you hardly have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Along with my DVDs, I've bought scores of manga as well. The sad part is that I haven't read an entire volume of one since I got the first volume of Chobits
more than a year and a half ago.
So here I was beside a candle reading the first volume of the Video Girl Ai manga
. At a point I was afraid I'd put my book too close to the candle, and you'd see me sitting in a sofa chair with my mini-maglite on top of my ear like a pen, straining to take in every word and image of the manga. By the time I was done, I had also polished off the second volume of Chobits
, along with the first volume of Samurai Deeper Kyo
. The only reason I didn't do any more was because I felt like taking in the darkness by sitting in my car outside and listening to the radio, flipping between news reports and the baseball game.
Like anime DVDs, the manga game has grown exponentially in a very short period of time. It used to be that we would have to wait almost half a year for an entire trade paperback of a series to be released. But because of bold moves by some publishers, we only have to wait one or two months between volumes today.
In the last few years, more emphasis in the North American anime industry has been placed more on DVDs than on manga, and rightfully so. DVDs have changed the way we enjoy and collect videos (e.g. turning the video world into a buying-based mentality as opposed to renting), not to mention that they've been the single most noteworthy factor in anime's increased North American popularity. But the bottom line is that the when you look at the history of anime and manga, it all starts with the printed page. The manga is the root of everything we hold dear in our hobby. The manga, generally speaking, is a lot more accessible to budget-conscious fans than a DVD, and it took far too long for manga distribution to make the format accessible here.
Since most of the anime we enjoy comes from the manga page, the manga gives you a better sense of how the story was meant to proceed. I know this might be stating the obvious, but it's also something that's easily lost on us, especially when we talk about the things we wished we saw in the anime. It took being plunged into darkness for me to remember that point. I've always known the manga scene in North America has become better and more competitive in the last eighteen months, but it took a power blackout for me to finally appreciate that.
On another note, I'd like to thank those of you who came out to CNAnime and, more specifically, the gameshows my friends and I hosted. Most of the ANN staff had the chance to enjoy conversing with the fans at major anime conventions like AX or Otakon, but usually I'm stuck with whatever comes here to SARS country. Thank you to those who decided to brave the fears concerning SARS, West Nile, Mad-cow, CNAnime, and the rolling blackout alert. Wasn't it cool to see the masquerade
done on the Canadian Idol set?
Got a story from the dark, or anything else? okina_chair (at hotmail.com)