Monday, November 21, 2005

Stubborn Monkey

Working at the bookstore, I’ve learned quite a bit. (Lesson one: people suck and don’t deserve help finding products that want.) But one corner of the store that genuinely surprised me was the manga. Having played video games nearly all my life and occasionally letting weeknight Adult Swim past “Aqua Teen,”, I had some awareness of the culture surrounding these strange serial Japanese comics, but I had no idea that had become so popular.

People — kids, disaffected teens, oddly proportioned adults — buy these things but the armful. They’ve done so in Japan for a long time. There, it’s not considered socially wonky to read them in public, even when they contain gushing genitals. So, like sushi, Dance Dance Revolution and the guys who bombed Pearl Harbor, these things drifted across the Pacific and into the lives of Americans.

They’re thicker than I thought, much more so than American comic books. Also, the pages turn in reverse order to what they would with an American book, which I kind of like in that it preserves some of the charm of it being a foreign product. But most importantly, the titles are hilarious in that same kind of Jinglishy hey-chief-let’s-talk-why-not translated way that Babelfish turns English into something and then back into English.

Here’s a few of the ones that made me laugh:
  • 3x3 Eyes
  • All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku
  • Assemble Insert
  • Bluer Indigo
  • Boys Over Flowers
  • Candidate for Goddess
  • Cheese Family
  • Dirty Pair Flash
  • D.N.Angel
  • Fruits Basket
  • Goldfish Warning
  • Hell Teacher Nube
  • Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
  • Lady Oscar
  • Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shaluto
  • Little Snow Fairy Sugar
  • Mushrambo
  • Pet Shop of Horrors
  • Please Save My Earth
  • Poltergeist Report
  • Prince of Tennis
  • Riding Bean
  • Sorcerous Stabber Orphan
  • Supernatural Beast City
  • The Violinist of Hameln
  • Weather Report Girl
  • Xabungle
  • You’re Under Arrest!
And the high-and-above winner, “Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo.” Apparently repeating a nonsense syllable seven times makes a title now. I’m totally sure the names have symbolic relevance in the narratives themselves. They’re not just words picked willy-nilly by some Japanese hack and then assembled into something he thought sounded good.

Nonetheless, they are fun to say out loud. I actually can’t seem to do it without inflecting my voice to sound like a nonsense-spouting infomercial spokesperson.


  1. Don't make fun... "Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo" still holds its place in my mind as one of the finest works of fiction created to date. Honest.

  2. Every title in that list would also make excellent band names. I'm either using "Goldfish Warning" of "Sorcerous Stabber Orphan." That last one may be too emo though.