Alright, I freely admit that this was my first crack at reading Manga.
For some reason, when my friends discovered Manga and started delving into the interesting world of Japanese Animation, the fascination skipped over me. (As did High School Musical--sorry.) I went right from Goosebumps and American Girl books to Twilight and the Mortal Instruments. I don't say this insinuating that getting into Manga was a rite of passage that I missed, but in a way, it was, since I seemed to be the only young adult who didn't understand the fascination.
That being said, years later, an opportunity presented itself (literally) for me to finally try my first copy of Manga.
There is a wonderful little bookworm program called BookCrossing. Readers will find a book they love (or a book they want to read, a book they don't like so much, etc.) put a BookCrossing tag in it (with a code), and cast it off at a random public spot for someone to find, read, and drop off again so someone else may find it. As each person logs in that they found said book, readers come together and discuss (online) how they liked or disliked the book they found. It is incredibly neat. Ever since I discovered BookCrossing (around five or so years ago), I have been dying to find one myself. Finding one while I was living in Florida had slim chances, since the state is so big, and not many people (at the time) were casting out books. My one chance of finding one was to make a trip to Disney, and I really only ventured into Orlando for one thing--the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
I have a point to this blog post, I promise.
Once I moved to New England, the chances of finding a BookCrossing book had become much higher, but I honestly had given up on finding one once I found out how difficult it would be to find one in Florida. I could have cast one out myself, but that took an effort, and I can be extremely lazy. (Yes, I admit it!)
Fast-forward to living in New England. About a week ago, as I was doing a photo shoot for my business HerShelves Elves, I was wrapped in as many sweaters and jackets as possible, scouring a park, placing my elves in front of giant Christmas decorations for my Facebook page. As I walked to the center of the solid, icy, packed snow, I placed my elves on a bench covered in bows and wreaths. But something else was in my shot, wrapped in a plastic zipper bag.
My very first BookCrossing book.
With a fleeting glance, I noticed it was Manga, but I didn't care. I finally found one! I quickly took my pictures, and shivered as I ran back to my car. I knew I had to read it. I found this book for a reason. It had to be the book gods' way of telling me to expand my literary palate even more.
So, with excited and giddy shaking hands (and a tad bit of trepidation), I started Sakura Tsukuba's Sweet Rein Vol. 3.
I honestly didn't realize it was the last volume of the saga until I started reading about Kurumi (the Santa) and Kaito (her reindeer), and realized they were already well-acquainted with their readers. Nevertheless, I delved in anyway (against my inner OCD's shrieking will in the back of my head).
It was difficult adjusting to the word bubbles and phraseology of the characters' dialogues, but surprisingly the order in which you read the word bubbles was extremely easy to understand. Right to left with the comic windows, just like reading Hebrew, but left to right because it's English. (It's much easier than it sounds.)
Of course, with my mind being a tad more closed than I'd care to admit, I thought the way Kurumi, Kaito, and Sakura Tsukuba's reoccurring characters communicated with each other was a bit childish and silly, but, I admit, I gradually became amused with them.
The book is told in four parts, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Some seasons I liked more than others (Summer and Winter), and I actually found myself picking a favorite character out of the bunch. In addition to those pleasant surprises, I was also shocked to find myself disappointed when the book ended suddenly. (The last few chapters, which I THOUGHT was another installment of Spring, was in fact a preview of another Tsukuba story.) I was so disappointed. Disappointed enough to casually look up Sakura Tsukuba on the internet...and, you know, just see how many Kurumi and Kaito books there were...and, you know, just check it out, just in case the story continued...
Okay, FINE. I admit it. I became hooked. Horribly hooked. I want more of their story, I want the first few installments of the Sweet Rein books (because Vol. 3 is the LAST, apparently), and I want to casually stroll through the Manga sections of the bookstore (which I would never normally venture into unless it was attached to the YA section).
I hate to sound a tad hippy dippy, but this fateful find of a BookCrossing book opened my eyes to a new universe of literature. Now that I've finished the book, I plan on dropping it off at a different park in the vicinity, and logging on to BookCrossing to thank the originator of the book for introducing me to Manga.