KINGYO Used Books sounded like a simple, unpretentious name, and perhaps that was why I was attracted to it almost immediately. There are some things about simple titles (exceptions apply) that scream, “This is a good manga!”. In this case, my hunch was right. “This manga bookstore has a thousand stories to tell,” said the message on the cover. On the surface, Kingyo Used Books is a comic about manga and the eponymous second-hand manga bookstore, but take a look deeper and the manga is more than that – it’s a story about people.
It is one of the more emotionally engaging works I’ve read in some time. Seimu Yoshizaki introduces the reader to many manga masterpieces while he tells the stories of the people affected by these classics.
Kingyo Used Books is composed of multiple short stories, each separate from the other. However, they often feature Kingyo Used Books bookstore and its staff – most notably the shopkeeper, Natsuki, the manga-crazy Shiba, and the owner, Seitaro.
Kingyo Used Books Vol.1 has five stories, each revolving around a different character that have their lives affected by a manga.
Stories range from normal – a salaryman reliving his love for manga to something less ordinary such as a boy who is so obsessed about a single classic that he basically transforms himself into the manga’s main character.
All stories, however, were carefully told in such a way that a reader easily connects to it.
Also, Seimu manages to tie in the influences of manga with people’s lives without it appearing forced, seamlessly weaving the essence of each manga into the very fabric of the tale. He manages to introduce you to manga classics and at the same time tell heart-warming stories about people – a fine balance.
The art isn’t anything to shout about, but it does its job well. What’s notable about the art is how well the artist expresses emotions via the characters. In a slice-of-life, often emotional comic like this, the artist’s knack at drawing expressions can make or break a title, and in this respect I find Seimu’s simple lines convey enough emotions to engage the reader.
The final pages of the book have detailed information about the manga featured in Kingyo Used Books, which is definitely a bonus for manga enthusiasts to brush up their manga-lore.
Not everyone will like Kingyo Used Books – it’s impactful, but in a subtle way that might be missed by some. However, if you’re tired of ninja, shinigami and pirates and are looking for something more akin to everyday life, Kingyo Used Bookstore will be a refreshing change of pace. — Rating: 4.5