Kingyo Used Books Book 2

I don’t have much new to say about this volume, since the appeal is the same as in the first book, only with different titles featured. How can I not love a series about how the right comic book will inspire you to change your life?

Kingyo Used Books Book 2 cover
Kingyo Used Books Book 2
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(In my case, it was Understanding Comics. Without it, I wouldn’t have gotten back into comics in grad school, which means I wouldn’t have begun reviewing, which means I wouldn’t have met my husband or established this now-almost-teenaged website. So thanks, Scott McCloud.)

In the stories in this volume:

  • A quiet high achiever wants something different in his life, and he’s finally inspired to take action by Osamu Tezuka’s Adolf.
  • A manga speculator learns to appreciate books for more than their resale value in a story shedding new light on the weirdnesses of Kingyo bookseller Shiba (shown on the cover).
  • A bar hostess bonds with a little girl over Kenji Miyazawa’s fables in a story that works to seem innocent a bit too hard, but the determination of the child is funny in her single-mindedness. And the image of her unsure of where she’s going, clutching her beloved book, is a real “aw” moment.
  • We learn more about Natsuki, the shopkeeper minding the bookstore for her grandfather, and her uncertainty over her role. Then her parents, both of them ridiculous, show up in a humor chapter.

The art is skilled at creating just the right mood through its everyday presentation, overlaid with narration that guides the reader through the emotional arcs. It requires attention to expression as well as the text, demonstrating what makes comics so unique and fun to read.

Two things about the first story particularly touched me: First, that the student opens up to others through writing a review, but also that there’s an unspoken cross-generational message. When we’re talking about older or classic manga, especially, it’s neat to see how much can be learned from someone who’s not necessary part of your age group, and that something not new still has value.

The book ends on a high note. The next-to-last chapter is about a tough guy who learns not to be ashamed of his liking for a particular shojo manga, released only once a year. (And I thought it was difficult waiting for American releases!) I love the message, about being true to your interests regardless of what others think. The next story is another heart-breaker, with Galaxy Express 999 revealing a classmate’s family problems. The imagery of riding trains at night is striking.

The biggest problem with this series is how many manga series it recommends that aren’t available in English and are unlikely to be. The short one-page essays at the back make them all sound wonderful, but when it’s talking about series that have run for 20 or 40 years, it’s like expecting all of Blondie to be imported into Japan. It’s just not likely to happen.

You can read sample chapters of this book at the publisher’s SigIKKI website.


  1. “You can read sample chapters of this book at the publisher’s SigIKKI website.”

    Yay! I can sample the comic to see if it’d be something I’d want to give them money for! I hope so. I’m always happy to give money to those who produce quality entertainment.

    “We’re sorry, this content is not available in your region.”

    Oh, well… Just think of all the exciting things that could have done with my $12 if I had seen a comic that really fired me up.

    Now my money shall remain in my pocket to only fantasize about what sort of sexy adventures it could have had in the hands of Viz, Shogakukan, and Shueisha.

  2. Oh, I hadn’t realized that the material was region-locked. What area are you in?

  3. I can’t wait for my pre-order of this volume to arrive. One of the things I LOVE about this series is that it also introduces me to other great series.

  4. Johanna: Hilariously enough, I’m in Japan.

    There’s a second hand bookstore down the street from me that carries a large amount of manga. I’m pretty sure I can get the entire series in pretty good condition at a similar price to what they’re asking in North America for one book.

    Either way, I think preventing potential customers from seeing the samples of the thing you want them liking enough to buy from you, is an idiotic way to go about running a business in a time sales are falling through the floor.

  5. […] the first two manga covered are more familiar to me than the works mentioned in the previous books. Kingyo Used Books Book […]

  6. […] Kingyo Used Books 2 has a Tezuka-focused chapter […]

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