After living in Japan for several years, you’d thing I would have a fair amount of experience reading manga, Japan’s wildly popular comic books. You’d be wrong. For some reason, I never really got into manga when I lived there, even though they’re a fairly useful way to learn Japanese. Part of the problem for me was the content, and in particular the offensive portrayal of women in many manga, but that’s not a reason to have missed out on the whole genre.
As it happens, manga are also becoming wildly popular in the English-speaking world. I recently read a review of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim manga on somebody’s blog. I wish I could remember where, so I could give the blogger credit. In any case, this person gave a huge recommendation to the Pilgrim books, so I had my local comics shop order them for me. They came yesterday, and I read them both last night.
Manga are smaller in height and width than regular comic books, but they’re several times longer. Every manga I’ve ever seen has been in black and white, as are the Scott Pilgrim books. Thus far, Bryan has written two books: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS VERY MINOR SPOILERS: The premise is a combination of the mundane and the fantastic. Scott Pilgrim is a 23-year-old bassist in a crappy Toronto rock band. He’s dating a high school student named Knives Chau. And he’s having strange dreams about a roller-blading woman with exotic hair. Things turn weird when he actually sees this woman in the real world. Turns out she’s Ramona Flowers, the only delivery worker in Toronto for amazon.ca. She’s been traveling through Scott’s dreams as she delivers packages. They end up dating. But before they can live happily ever after, Scott must fight Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends. And Ramona must defend herself from the jilted Knives Chau. Hilarity ensues.
Like any description of a visual work, the preceeding paragraph pales in comparison to the real thing. You really need to see and read Scott Pilgrim for yourself. You can visit the Web site to learn more, or you can cut to the chase and order the books from the Oni Press site. And of course, if you’re in Rochester, you can stop by Comics, Etc. at 274 N. Goodman St. in Village Gate and ask Andy to order them for you.