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    Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro (Translated by Takami Nieda) 

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    This anthology series of sorts has found its pace and has become comfortable in just being what it is.

    Creative Staff
    Story: Seimu Yoshizaki
    Art: Seimu Yoshizaki
    Translation/Adaptation: Takami Nieda

    What They Say
    In this volume: A disaffected boy searches for something to put a spark in his tedious life…and finds a manga that puts the fear of the devil in him. A guy and girl can’t find anything they have in common— until they discover a mutual love of a certain gender-bending martial arts manga. After a schlubby nerd loses his cool at the handsome manga freaks at Kingyo, a classic horror manga teaches him that beauty is only skin deep. Natsuki’s search for her missing mother takes her to a manga museum that has special meaning for her parents. Someone is setting fire to used bookstores, and Kingyo may be next— unless two mismatched manga fans can stop the arsonist!

    Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
    With Volume 4 of Kingyo Used Books I have found myself having a difficult time in providing commentary. Over the last four books, I have seen Kingyo appeal to me in different lights. At first, it was a series of stories that aimed to break down barriers in manga readership. It compelled readers to see and understand why people love manga, why it is more than just strange comics from a foreign land. It brought to me a sense of excitement to read stories of how manga can affect individuals, invoke particular feelings, and give unto us what all great forms of art can provide: a sense of clarity, judgement, and direction. Stories that reach into our souls and pull out hidden gems within us that can shape us into beings more realized in our identities.

    I also saw a portal into the wonderful world of manga by displaying to us, as readers, the different manga that has been written over the years. It showed us how these new unheard of manga could affect someone and at the very least make us excited to hunt down and read these manga for ourselves. This was the most exciting aspect for me because I love manga and by reading about manga of old, or simply manga I may have never heard of, it roused a particular vigor in me that wanted to read these manga, that wanted to hunt down and discover as much manga as possible. It made me want to deepen my love and investment in an art form of which I was already fond of.

    Kingyo also showed me simple stories about people with manga inserted into these stories simply to be there. These stories are what started to ground me in my enthusiasm for the series. They were, at their core, simply stories about people, situations, and life that have manga featured sometimes only as fan-service to maintain a common theme. This state of mind is where I have found myself after reading volume 4. After volume three and my smack-down to reality, I found a group of stories that were hit or miss. Not every story in volume 3 was a winner but there were others that were. Volume 4 is a book of winners.

    The stories featured in volume 4 follow the pace and tone set by volume 3. Simply stories that feature manga. The revelations and profundity I found in the first two books is all but gone. Instead we have seven extremely solid stories, stories that are well written, sublimely executed, and drawn with a precision that brings out the best with each individually themed story. The stories are graced with humour and drama in almost equal portions so that as I read, I was constantly enthralled and entertained. There are characters I have grown extremely fond of of the course of the four available volumes and I find myself invested to continue reading of their exploits. New characters are introduced in this volume and some are expanded into more fleshed out individuals. These are qualities that all books should have.

    I no longer find myself gushing at the possibilites of this series, I no longer see it as an introductory series or one that can expand the vision of a manga fan. I am more than content to just read this series, to absorb each story for the time of which I get to spend with them. There are still manga featured within the stories that make me hunger to read and there are also celebrations of manga that I already love. In volume four the “I love this manga, so glad to see it featured” manga is Go Nagai’s Devilman. But the chapter in which that manga is featured doesn’t really talk about the manga. It is the story of a spoiled boy who is perpetually unhappy with every manga he has read. However, once he reads Devilman, he finds himself terrified and shocked. The story is about finding something that can resonate with a reader and evoke a response. For this boy it just happened to be Devilman. The manga that could’ve been used is completely interchangable and the same message could have been delivered.

    This is where Kingyo Used Books has found itself. Telling stories that are self-encapsulated in a single, sometimes 2, chapter(s) that the author can provide a message. Perhaps there is no message, perhaps the author simply wants to delivers a nice story that can either be fun or heart-warming, or both. Pulling from manga as an inspiration and including a manga title into the stories give the different chapters a core base, something they can all be tied into. Nothing more and nothing less. Volume 4 is an excellent volume in all respects and a welcome improvement over the extremely luke-warm and slightly disappointing experience of volume 3.

    In Summary
    I still love the series and will stand behind it as a wonderful exercise in quality story-telling. Each story in volume four is an excellent read that can either be marathoned or taken one at a time over the course of however many days. But that is my stance on Kingyo; it is excellent storytelling that can introduce people to new manga they are unaware of but that is simply the footnotes. If you have been enjoying the series so far, or were underwhelmed by the last book, this is a perfect book to pick up to continue the series or to regain love once slighted or lost.

    Content Grade: B+
    Art Grade: A-
    Packaging Grade: A-
    Text/Translation Grade: A-

    Readers Rating: [ratings]

    Age Rating: 16+
    Released By: Viz Signature
    Release Date: October 18th, 2011
    MSRP: $12.99

    Original Article

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