With only a day until 2008 is officially behind us, it’s no wonder people are taking the time to look back at the year with reflection. It’s been an incrediable journey for me and my website this year and even more so for the manga industry and its loyal fans. I couldn’t help but sit down and write some of my thoughts of the year. Truely they only scratch the surface of a long but satisfying year and I hope that others have reason to remember the year as fondly as I have :)
It’s been a big year in the manga world, from Tokyopop’s restructuring to the appearance of a new publisher, Yaoi Generation (not to mention awaiting further word on Kodansha publishing in English). People have been watching the economy’s effect on the industry and the ripple effects of less purchases, slimmed down release schedules and the confirmed drops of a few well-loved series (we miss you Off*Beat!).
Summer conventions offered lots of exciting licenses, both manga and anime, and Funimation has really swooped into the anime scene to reign as supreme Overload (bringer of affordable boxsets!). Amazon continues to offer fans a glimpse into the future and 2008 has been a big year for anime-to-live-action adaptations (whether we want it or not).
I’ve read Kami-knows-how-many English-translated manga books this year, to the occassional dismay of my wallet but the joys of my obsession, and I really got into the review kick with an even 300 manga reviews as of today! There were so many great books this year that it’s hard to pick and choose a distinct list of favorites but there were certainly more than a few that come to mind.
Future Lovers and Silver Diamond were definately among my favorite new series to pop up this year and I eagerly look forward to all future volumes of them that 2009 promises. The two-volume Yen Press series, Kieli was a wonderful read and Yen Press as a whole really impressed me this year with their numerous releases, steadily and consistantly increasing quality and a very friendly staff I’ve enjoyed communicating with. They also released the fourth volume of One Thousand and One Nights in May 2008 after absorbing Ice Kunion’s licenses, continuing one of my favorite currently running series.
Tokyopop made my dreams come true with their release of Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo back in Feburary and continued to please my Matsuri Akino fangirl with shipping lists that confirmed their August 2008 release of Genju no Seiza will not be the last!
One of my first reads of 2008 was the December 2007 release of Aimee Major Steinberger’s Japan Ai, one of the sweetest and funnest books out there that any fan of anime, manga, cuteness and Japan should be sure is in their hands! The year gave me lots of other Global manga-inspired works to enjoy as well, including Yaoi Press’s Dark Prince series, the defunct Iris Print’s Only Words by Tina Anderson and the gorgeously drawn final volume of the Winter Demon books.
On the yaoi front, I fell in love with a few stand-out books, such as A Strange and Mystifying Story, Romantic Illusions, The Moon and The Sandals and the dramatic, tearful conclusion of Yuki Shimizu’s Love Mode.
The year also provided me with some fantastic horror reads, from the gruesome cases of MDP Psycho and the completely engrossing Monster by Naoki Urusawa. Both series are hard to stop reading so I’ll be withholding my reviews of them both until I’ve finished! Coming in at a much shorter length of two volumes, Metro Survive was a fantastic short series of survival and terror that was also my first run-in with Dr. Master Books.
Other notable favourites of the year include the single volume, Solanin, the adorably cute +Anima, the beautifully told Garden Dreams, the hilarious Your and My Secret and the consistantly entertaining CLAMP works, XXXHolic and Tsubasa.
All of these titles and a whole bunch more made 2008 a fantastic year to be a manga fan and with over 400 manga releases already slated for 2009, the new year already has lots of goodies to offer us!
My website and I went through some big changes this year as well, from a new layout to an actual consistant posting schedule. I’ve really gotten bitten by the review writing bug which keeps me writing every day and hopefully one step closer to my dreams of finding room for myself in the fast-paced manga industry (dream big!). I’m still nowhere near as articulate and interesting as the reviewers whose opinions I always go to first (check out my Blogroll for some of the super insightful and well-spoken folks out there), but I feel I improve with each and every one. It means the world to me that people stop by and take a look now and again, and those who take the time to comment with their thoughts and recommendations always make my day! I’m glad that my lucky occassional news-finds makes people happy and I’ll do my best to continue spreading the word in 2009.
2008 has also seen some great community activity from my perspective and I’ve gotten the chance to come across, and even speak to, some amazing talent. Tina Anderson has been a blast to speak with (against her occassional warnings to me ;) ) and I’ve really had fun watching the progression of her new webcomic, Whore of Turfan, with a dear friend of mine, MT. ANN’s questionably named Chicks on Anime has given some good food for thought and I’m really loving the whole round-table thing, such as those by the crew of Manga Recon. Maybe I’ll make participating in one sometime a goal for 2009! I’ve started to consistantly follow a lot of fellow bloggers out there whose posts are always worth a read, including Snow at Fujoshi Library, Connie of Slightly Biased Manga, Lori of Manga Xanadu, Kris of Manic About Manga and Melinda of there it is, plain as daylight. Of course major thanks always goes to the dedicated Brigid of Manga Blog for always offering some great links and finds! Not to mention being an incrediable boost of traffic flow to my humble site ;)
There’s been so much stuff over the past twelve months, it’d be impossible for me to go over it all but simply said its been one heckuva rollarcoaster ride. I’ve had lots of amazing opportunities, learned an unconcievable amount through a lot of educational experiences, and gotten to meet & greet a lot of fantastic people and read a whole lot of amazing books!
Suffice to say, 2009 has lots to live up to but I’m confident it’ll do its best and I look forward to enjoying it with all my friends and visitors :)
Happy New Year everyone!