【Loot】Kikan S, The Art of Sister Princess, and Various Manga from Book Off

A month goes by so quickly these days.

Book Off is a chain of used bookstores, although the stores also have some new books for sale, such as newly released manga tankoubon. They sell almost exclusively Japanese books, but the overseas branches have sections devoted to books in the respective domestic language as well. They operate mainly in Japan, but have branches in Seoul, South Korea; the United States; Vancouver, Canada; and Paris, France.

Official Site: http://www.bookoff.co.jp/en/index.html
Book Off at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_Off

Trip I

  • The Art of Sister Princess – 天広直人画集 – Naoto Tenhiro Illustrations: $4.00
  • 季刊S (Kikan S) Vol. 19, Summer 2007: $2.00
  • ARIA Vol. 9: $5.00
  • ARIA Vol. 11: $5.00

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Total: $16.00

Trip II

  • Kikan S Vol. 3, Summer 2003: $2.00
  • Kikan S Vol. 4, Autumn 2003: $2.00
  • Kikan S Vol. 5, Winter 2004: $2.00
  • Kikan S Vol. 8, Autumn 2004: $2.00
  • Kikan S Vol. 20, Autumn 2007: $2.00
  • Comickers Art Style Vol. 3: $2.00
  • Pluto Vol. 3 (Big Comics Special ver.): $2.00
  • Chobits Vol. 2: $2.00
  • Emma Vol. 1: $2.00
  • Mirai Nikki Vol. 2: $2.00

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Total: $20.00

Trip I

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The Art of Sister Princess – 天広直人画集 – Naoto Tenhiro Illustrations: Man is this artbook old news, but I couldn’t resist getting it for $4.00 because it was so high quality, and I thought it would nice to finally add a real artbook to my pathetic excuse of a collection. I also couldn’t help being swayed by the fact that the book was still in the cardboard box it originally came packaged in, and it was probably this pristine-like condition that finally made me take the thing home. I also have a soft spot for Tenhiro’s art, because even though his illustrations aren’t always consistently perfect, he’s been around for a very long time, and was one of the first illustrators I truly knew by name. Not to mention that imoutos are always nice, unless they’re not 2D.

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季刊S (Kikan S) Vol. 19, Summer 2007: Kikan S has always been a magazine that I’ve been curious about, as I’ve heard it being compared to Wani’s ROBOT Super Color Comic magazines, so I was pleased to see it in stock at Book Off. I immediately decided to buy this after seeing that this volume included a relatively lengthy interview with 放電映像 (Houden Eizou), who is one of my favourite illustrators. I hope to translate it at a later date. As with all Kikan S issues, this volume has a theme, and it’s of けものの (kemonono), things pertaining to Kemono. As a result, all the exclusive illustrations are mainly of girls with animal ears and tails, and the interviews center upon creators and works that have to do with kemono. Unfortunately, this issue is possibly bordering on illegal, or at the very least R-25 or something, because there are 6 pages of photography of rather young, 3D, human girls in the nude.

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ARIA Vol. 9 and 11: The last things I picked up on this trip. I was reluctant to buy them at first because they were expensive compared to the $2.00 and $4.00 books, but I’m pretty glad I got them anyways because really, ARIA is worth way more than $5.00/volume, due to the immense rereading value each chapter has. I’ve also never read these before (since I didn’t own them), so it was great to revisit Neo-Venezia for the first time in about…two years.

Trip II

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季刊S (Kikan S) Vol. 3, 4, 5, 8, 20: Oh hey, more Kikan S. I was so satisfied with the packed and varied content (especially the interviews and exclusive (?) artwork) of Vol. 19 that I decided to clear Book Off of its remaining $2.00 issues of Kikan S. Although some issues are quite old (from 2003 to 2007), I loved seeing how artists progressed from then to now, and I also liked seeing who the up-and-coming illustrators were at that time. In Vol. 4 (Autumn 2003), there was a “pick-up” section for featuring new and unique artists, one of which is the now-well-known Teikoku Shounen, and this was part of the illustration that got in the book. In Vol. 5 (Winter 2004), Kikan S’s theme was the Illustration List which profiled new illustrators and creators, one of which is the currently super-popular huke, and a few of his pre-BRS art, including this one, is shown on this one-page profile on him, with his old website URL.

The themes for each of these issues are as follows: Vol. 3, おひめさま/Princess; Vol. 4, 少年の日々/Days of the Youth; Vol. 5, イラストリスト/Illustration List; Vol. 8, 少女少年サーカス/Boys and Girls’ Circus; and Vol. 20, みらいまぼろし/Future Illusion.

Also, it’s worthwhile to note that since the beginning of Kikan S’s publication, all the cover illustrations have been done by 水屋美沙x水屋洋花 (MIZUYA Misa and MIZUYA Hiroka), two twin sisters who illustrate together. At first, I thought that the covers were done by OBATA Takeshi of Hikaru no Go and Death Note fame, but apparently that’s not the case, even though the styles are eerily similar.

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Comickers Art Style Vol.3 and Pluto Vol. 2: I got Comickers solely due to the fact that a chapter of one of Maeshima Shigeki‘s original full colour manga is inside. It’s also a work I have never, ever heard of before, so its obscurity made me decide to snap it up. Unfortunately, the other content in the book is quite mediocre, consisting almost solely of interviews with artists who aren’t particularly outstanding, although HIGURI Yuu, the mangaka of Cantarella, is admittedly somewhat interesting. Lovely piece of cover art too, which is replicated in its entirety in poster form, included in the book.

As for Pluto Vol. 2, there was no way I could pass up on getting a volume of one of my favourite series for such a low price, and for a special and shiny edition to boot! It also helped that it was only Vol. 2 that was $2.00 instead of the others as I really like Urasawa’s design for Atom. The packaging for this book is pretty magnificent, with an embossed and foil-like cover and faithfully reproduced colour pages. It also has a transparent landing sheet through which the whole artwork of Atom can be seen. The whole manga is printed on smooth, slightly glossy, and pure white paper as well.

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Mirai Nikki Vol. 2, Chobits Vol. 2, and Emma Vol. 1: I was actually planning to leave the store with only the purchases above, but unfortunately I stumbled upon the $2.00 section for seinen manga tankoubon. These three were practically picked up entirely on impulse, but I don’t regret it at all as two of them are of some of my favourite series (Mirai Nikki and Chobits), and I already know that Emma is good, if not godly. I had been meaning to start reading Emma anyways, so getting the first volume would actually make me read it once and for all. Funnily enough, one of the issues of Kikan S I got had mentioned Emma too.

Maybe it seems odd that I would get Vol. 2 of Mirai Nikki and Chobits when I don’t have any other volumes of Mirai Nikki, and only Vol. 8 of Chobits, but I personally don’t care for completeness, and I just like collecting my favourite volumes of my favourite series. I specifically chose Vol. 2 of Mirai Nikki (rather than Vol. 3 or Vol. 4, which were also available there) because it has one of the best pages in a manga ever, and the Yuno on the back cover is delicious. I didn’t get to choose any other volumes of Chobits, since only Vol. 2 was $2.00, but I’m happy with it anyways since any and all volumes of Chobits are gorgeous to read, plus there are quite a lot of scenes with Hibiya Chitose in Vol. 2…

Lastly, I would like to note that everything I got from Book Off was in a near-impeccable condition, and nothing was ripped or tattered. The prices are super-fair and affordable, and I highly recommend visiting a branch of this chain if you like buying Japanese books at all, and don’t mind that the items have been used.