My first encounter with Ancient Magus’ Bride was when the manga first came overseas. I was reading through manga reviews and spotted its beautiful cover, which went accompanied with a perfect 10/10 score. I bought the first volume when I got the opportunity to and enjoyed it a great deal. Even so, I kept feeling something akin to buyer’s remorse. One glance at my shelves betrayed exactly why I felt that way.
Series. So many series. Sure, some of them are complete, but others I stopped collecting for various reasons and many others are still ongoing. Berserk, Spice & Wolf, Witchcraft Works, Delicious in Dungeon, all of them are as-of-yet unfinished and all of them I kind of regretted starting on.
A lot of manga release in magazines and try to keep their story going so long as the work is popular enough not to risk cancelation—a process that was parodied excellently in Romeo Tanaka’s Humanity Has Declined. While we ultimately want well-paced stories with daring subject matter and surprising twists, authors are encouraged to pander and play it safe; just to make sure their work stays popular enough with as many people to avoid a more forceful conclusion to its story.
And I have been at the losing end of that deal too many times. I have allowed myself to get seriously invested in manga that would end up canceled. I have had series that kept going for so long that I lost interest or changed so much that it lost its appeal to me. And sometimes I started buying manga that would then get adapted into an anime that I liked better.
The little bonus comic at the end of Ancient Magus’ Bride’s first volume hammered the point home nicely. In it, author Kore Yamazaki expresses her excitement at the series being popular and remarks that she doesn’t fully know yet how long the series will go on for and where it might go. An understandable stance from the perspective of an author who makes her living on the continued popularity of this beloved series, but it helped me realize I just don’t like getting myself involved with projects that are still this uncertain.
I liked volume 1, but would I still be into it if the series ended up being 30 volumes? What if it would only get 3? What if some big plot-twist completely changed the course of the story and a large part of the fanbase called it quits? If I am going to dedicate myself to reading a longer series or buying its physical volumes, I like being able to research this stuff ahead of time.
Helck was a big commitment for me, but since it was finished there was a lot of information I could find that encouraged me to give it a try anyway. I could see what other people scored it in the end, I could read up on how it topped popularity charts only to be denied an anime adaptation, and AniList tags like “Tragedy” and “Anti-hero” clued me in that the story would be bigger than its comedic first volume implied. Helck is one of my all-time favorite manga series now and I could read it all in one go, whereas a series like Witchcraft Works is also fantastic; save for the fact that I have to wait months for each new volume to come out.
I don’t begrudge Ancient Magus’ Bride for this. If anything, this realization ended up being a good thing that improved my enjoyment in buying manga. It also pushed me to clear out some of my old stuff and donate a lot of the series I had stopped buying to a non-profit manga library. However, the allure of new series is never entirely gone. I don’t live in a vacuum and online hype for manga like Komi-san Can’t Communicate does make me wish I could join in on the fun.
What kind of reader are you? Do you follow ongoing series or do you get them in bulk when they are finished? Do you even still do printed media? If not, what the hell are you doing with the vast emptiness in your shelves?
9 thoughts on “How Ancient Magus’ Bride caused me to stop buying manga”
I collect a lot of ongoing manga series and, generally, I enjoy the anticipation of waiting for a new volume of my favourite series to come out. Sure, sometimes a series will change directions in a way I don’t like and I’ll wind up dropping it or a title will be canceled and I’ll have an unfinished series sitting on my shelves that I keep around in the vain hope that it will eventually get picked up again, but I also have a lot of series that I’ve collected for years and have enjoyed every step of the way.
One downside I do find to buying ongoing manga is that, with longer series that I acquire over the period of many years, I find that I will forget a lot of stuff that happens in the middle of a series. I’ve recently been trying to go back and reread some of my older, completed titles and being able to binge read them is a very satisfying experience.
I can never stop buying manga. Sure, sometimes a series turns out to be a dud, but some end up being better than I expected. It’s a risk you take with any form of media, especially since sequels and spin-offs are so common because they tend to be profitable.
I got back into reading manga late 2018 after six years so I was behind on the times. Last year I went through a manga frenzy and discovering the community again. Quickly how much it has involved is just crazy haha. I have a rather small collection and have been slowly adding but I started visiting my library again where I was amazed they have most newer titles. Indepensable resource at your fingertips saved me much money. digital manga is becoming popular quickly but I seem to only like reading shoujo and light novel digital. spending my money on digital data is still weird to me. but not everything gets a print.
I’ve been collecting anime for 10 years, I still buy all printed, I’m a printed person. But I’ve become very picky about what I collect. My collection only consists of what I know I’ll reread and rewatch. I get where your coming from, it’s an expensive hobby but I don’t believe it has to be if you moderate yourself. I intend to do a post covering this from my own experience.
Having survived off libraries for most of my manga intake, I spend most of my time trying to get to new libraries (or less frequently visited libraries) which may end up netting me a new volume of something, whether it be days or years old. In the past few years as I’ve gained regular access to manga I can purchase, I’ve been snapping up volumes of series I like too. Thus, I am a reader of ongoing series, but unless they appear via certain outlets which allow for being up-to-date, I’m fine with being behind so long as I can still understand the storyline.
I’m a print person at heart but will read digital if that’s the only way to access the series (e.g. some Shonen Jump series from the past few years). I’m very skeptical of who owns my card details, so that rules out a lot of ebooks and digital-only series by default. My collection is still small enough that I wouldn’t give away any of it unless I was neutral on or disliked anything from it, but that’s mostly on the anime side so far (I do have some unread volumes which I have to get around to, so it might change in the future).
I am happy to see Team Print is still going strong. I didn’t know digital manga was this popular outside of the scanlation scene though. I briefly held a subscription to Crunchyroll and read some volumes of a shoujo manga on it, but felt it was very lacking for a paid service. Books all the way!
Shonen Jump has their own digital initiative which they started with Alpha circa 2008 – 9, while I think most publishers of English-translated manga these days have digital-first/digital-only series (mostly for either hugely popular or niche series).