Manga Dogs Volume 2
At the end of the previous volume, manga artist Kanna had been kidnapped by a wannabe. More than her life, her work was in danger as her pages were taken hostage, preventing her from making her deadline. Of course, she’s rescued in this book — the advantage of a series made up of short (ten-page) chapters is that things move very quickly.
The teacher of the manga class (made up of Kanna, the three aspiring guys, and the new character) is herself an aspiring manga artist, but one that’s portrayed pathetically, due to her age and lack of accomplishment after all that time. The teacher decides to take the class to Comiket, the world’s largest comic book event, so she can sell her dojinshi. The new setting allows for a whole new set of complications, including cosplay and Kanna trying to protect the naive boys from being exposed to yaoi.
The characters are static in Manga Dogs, the better to allow the plot twists to vary for sitcom-like comedy. The high points of a manga career are moved through quickly, as Kanna gets her first collected volume as well as appearing at her first signing, all of which cause more tension and humorous desperation. The guys show some value here, coming up with a ridiculous plot that somehow works out, because everyone is oblivious to anything but their immediate wants.
When Kanna gets a love letter, we’re told by the author Ema Toyama that “manga artists are a life form that metabolize the bad events in their lives and excrete them as manga story points.” That makes the whole book seem a bit self-referential — as Kanna struggles with deadlines and ridiculous page counts demanded, once envisions Toyama feeling similarly. Fans and the reader response card rankings are continuing themes, with this book’s cliffhanger involving the ever-present threat of cancellation.
The volume ends with the first chapter of “Teach Me (heart) Buddha!”, Kanna’s series about a young girl trying not to fall in love with buddhist gods reincarnated as cute young men, so we can see how many areas she needs to improve. The premise is silly, the characters weirdly exaggerated, and the plots artificial. That’s the point. Good manga is hard, even if it is making fun of itself.