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01.16.08

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Manga: The Complete Guide

Reviewed by Richard von Busack


Ten years at Viz Media and a stint as the first editor of the Yankee version of Shonen Jump demonstrate that Jason Thompson knows as much about Japanese comics as any American author. This encyclopedia—invaluable to the casual fan and the dedicated one alike—is a labor of love. Thompson promises Internet updates to this encyclopedia. The listings of the sometimes quaintly titled Japanese books include ratings, dates and a carefully reasoned advisory on the age-appropriateness of the content. Useful appendixes discuss the grounds for Thompson's rating system, and he provides sidebars on subsets of Japanese comics. These include otaku, or fanzines; and dojinshi, alternative, often self-published, comics. There's a 31-page listing of yaoi manga—the sometimes chaste male-male romantic comics teenage girls devour overseas. Only two pages of listings of "Yuri" comics, though—those of the rezubian (lesbian) persuasion certainly have to play catch-up. Thompson also studies the more adult-content side of Japanese manga, whence we learn that later Sailor Moon series had nude scenes, and when a character gets a nosebleed it means he's sexually aroused. (By Jason Thompson; Del Rey; 556 pages; $19.95 paperback)


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