Manga: A French Perspective

This post comes from our French intern, R. Follow them at @Libre _R.

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One of my missions since I’ve been here has been to improve the manga section.  I was appalled at its tiny size compared to what I’ve known in bookstores back home. You have to know that France is the second country that buys the most mangas (after Japan, obviously), and we’ve grown a really tight-knit relationship with this cultural aspect (mangas, animes, animated movies) of Japan.

So I’ve discovered that it’s not the same here, on the contrary, BookPeople mostly relies on best-sellers (I haven’t been to a comics/graphics novels/mangas specialized bookstore in the United States, though). Not that that’s a bad thing! But it’s really interesting to me when I talk to customers.

For instance, in France, if I say “Ghibli” or cite some of this studio’s movies, almost everyone knows what I mean. Here, I’m surprised that nobody knows that Hayao Miyazaki has made a movie of Howl’s Moving Castle!9780061478789

Of course, some of the current best-sellers have earned their fame (Attack on Titan, One-Punch Man), although I’ve noticed that most of them (that were in stock before I arrived, I mean) had the common point of having an anime. Which is fine – except for Tokyo Ghoul, never watch the Tokyo Ghoul anime. Not to say that you don’t also have great titles that are not as known, like Yotsuba, or the works of the master of horror manga, Junji Ito.9781421580395

So since in France we have a wider range of mangas to choose from, I’m glad I can handpick quality titles that, here, are lesser-known, or have fallen into oblivion. So far, I’ve re-introduced and/or have written cards for: Orange, Tokyo Ghoul, Card Captor Sakura, Chi’s Sweet Home, Nabari No Ou, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (also a Ghibli movie!), Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Fruits Basket. Of course, it also means that France has translated more mangas than you have, and so some of my favorites are not available here, like Ghost Tower (or Yuureitô) or Saint Young Men.

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I’m always really happy to discuss mangas with customers, be they connoisseurs or non-manga readers, because for once I feel like I have an advantage, with this section. I’m not all-knowledgeable, but I pride myself on pushing forward titles that are dear to my heart for their depth and quality.

 

3 thoughts on “Manga: A French Perspective

    • It depends on your already existing literary tastes! If you just wanna start with the format, and you like cats and cute things, I recommend Chi’s Sweet Home, which is flipped to left-to-right reading. All the others are original right-to-left reading version. You can watch the Nausicaä movie (dystopian future, commentary on ecology and warfare) and if you like it read the manga! Neon Genesis Evangelion is also sci-fi, but very profound and psychological, more character driven, like Tokyo Ghoul, which is fantasy/horror and the author is very clever, there are treasures of foreshadowing and references (Herman Hesse, Kakfa) to be found! If you want something more lighthearted but still life-changingly moving, Card Captor Sakura (magical girl – think Sailor Moon) and Fruit Basket (fantasy/magical realism) both have strong narratives. I personally started with the unfortunately discontinued Nana, 100% realistic, funny and dramatic and beautiful and everything in between, so if you want to check it out you might have to prepare yourself to be left hanging forever after the 21st volume.

      PS: I work 10-6 every weekday so if you want to talk it out in a not so succinct way (also because I can’t remember our stock from the top of my heard), come to the store!

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