I’ve been buying an obscene amount of crap from Japan the past few months. Most of it is “research material” (Bomberman books, natch), but I also pick up toys, manga, magazines and other doodads; whatever I can get away with saying “it’s for the website, honest!”
Some of the most interesting buys are magazines, if just for the sheer variety of content in them. I may have bought four issues of Gamest just for the prototype Metal Slug coverage in them, but they’re full of great arcade games I’ve never even seen before. Likewise, I picked up an 1986 edition of CoroCoro Comic just for the rare City Connection manga in it, but there’s stacks of bizarre crap in it like old toy ads, Famicom Rocky, and an short-lived manga that’s never been collected anywhere else, Solar Dog Zero (太陽犬ゼロ). I’ve been sliiiightly tempted to track down the rest of it, but I’m juggling enough foolish endeavours as it is. (a Bomberman website, really?!?)
One of my current focuses is trying to track down all the Bomberman manga, seven of which have never been collected into volumes of any sort, so I have to track them down in the original anthologies or magazines. I picked up an issue of Dengeki Nintendo DS recently (which you’ll probably know the name of if you’re in the Pokémon scene, it’s usually plundered for screens and reveals when a new game is announced) just for the Bomberman story in it, but I was surprised by the number of game-related mangas inside, most of them I’d never even known of before! Full-page A4-sized manga, too!
I thought I’d look them up and see how many are catalogued or even recognised on English fansites. Doing so only made me angry. There’s nada! Not a blip of information on most of ’em! It’s like they don’t even exist! (which is a bit understandable when only one of them got a collected edition) So just for a larf, I want to spotlight the manga in Dengeki Nintendo DS’ March 2011 issue and take note of what coverage they have online.
Hoshi no Kirby: Pupupu Hero
A cheery bit of light-hearted Kirby fluff; in this story, Kirby teams up with Mr. Frosty against Dedede in a downhill bobsleigh race, though Lololo and Lalala block their path with an icecube maze. Kirby also makes these horrible kissy lips whenever he sucks stuff up and I hate it.
This ran from January 2008 to May 2013 [src], before reviving in Dengeki Bazooka!! as Hoshi no Kirby: Ultra Star Deluxe (星のカービィ ウルトラスーパーデラックス) for a run lasting October 2014 to April 2016. [src] It was also lucky enough to get its complete Dengeki Nintendo run collected in two volumes, though good luck finding them!
Kirby fansites have barely acknowledged this – Kirbytraum has a button for it but no link or info yet – though given how there’s eleventy-billion manga out there I can’t blame them. However, @hitotsunoneko‘s fansite Masked Knight steals the show – not only has it got scans of ten of the stories, it even has fan-translations for the first seven! This is a really good start for online recognition, but it’s gonna go downhill from here.
Super Kaseki Holder (Fossil Fighters: Champions)
Kids make dinosaurs fight or something. Sorry, I’d tuned out on Pokémon crazes by this point. It doesn’t help there were multiple dinosaur battling games my first guess was this was Dinosaur King. This ran from April 2008 to November 2010 but continued under a new name [src].
Not to sound condescending to fans, but I was surprised there was even a Wikia for the series – hey, good to see the developers didn’t waste time on a game people didn’t care about! It has a page for a manga, but only the one from the Japanese website; this one goes totally unacknowledged.
Animal Crossing: Komorebi Village
街へいこうよ どうぶつの森 あつまれ!こもれび村
Based off the City Folk/Let’s Go To The City game. The villagers partake in Bean Throwing Day that quickly grows out of control, turning into a bean-whacking free-for-all. Ran from February 2009 to September 2012 [src].
Like Kirby, there’s a million billion Animal Crossing manga out there, and even the Japanese Wikipedia article is sparse on details about them, so I can forgive them for their ignorance. The Wikia’s manga section is… well, it’s a start. Get used to hearing “not much is known about it” though!
Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba Bakunetsu Bomberman
Little kid Dan lives in Japanese suburbia with Bomberman as his house guest, and gets into explosion-filled antics. This episode has something to do with a Hige Hige Bandit putting them into a dream machine or something? Beats the heck outta me, man.
This ran from September 2008 to August 2011. It’s a bit of a blank slate online! There’s no Wikipedia article, there’s no fansite coverage (not yet, anyway!), and the most excerpts you’ll find of it is when the author blogged about the series ending. It was enough of a shock finding this one issue of Dengeki, I can’t imagine I’ll ever find a full run, but I’ll see what I can do.
Exciting Victory! Pokémon Card Game!!
Exactly what it says on the tin. That wolf thing battles the adorable fat caterpillar thing that I have collected a disproportionate amount of fanart of. Ran from November 2010 to May 2013 [src].
It’s a red link on Bulbapedia’s manga page. Don’t think anyone’s losing any sleep over this one!
An all-purpose Sonic the Hedgehog manga that would change focus to whatever game was hot, including Sonic & The Black Knight and even Sonic Chronicles. Sonic gets acquainted with the various Wisps after getting comically clobbered by a single Egg Pawn. Ran from September 2008 to May 2013 [src].
Ugh, documentation of this series has been a bit of a wreck on English shores. There’s no unified coverage, for one thing! Sonic Stadium apparently had scans and translations on their forums at one point, but the images are expired and the downloads dead; the only surviving remnants existing on this dodgy plundering blog. Sonic Retro’s wiki page for the World Adventuer manga links to bloody MegaUpload of all places, which has been dead for five years! Even the Sonic Wikia’s page for Generations links to Photobucket, which is a step-up but probably not going to last forever. The only thing that exists of the Chronicles and Black Knight manga are two tiny preview images. Cheers, lads.
GO! Ketsu Wario
Based off Wario Land: Shake It!/The Shake Dimension. Wario and a Bandinero go in the Subwarine to find a message in a bottle. Ran from September 2008 until August 2011 [src].
Not a blip on any English language Mario fansite, though there’s a decent subheading for it on the Japanese Wikipedia page for Shake.
And that’s the manga in that issue! Dengeki Nintendo ran over twenty manga during its run according to its Wikipedia page… and a whopping two of them ever got collected into volumes. I don’t know if it’s good or bad example to spotlight, given how it’s a relatively recent publication and not covered all that well even in Japanese. The likes of CoroCoro Comic and Comic Bom Bom had a better track record of stuff getting collected, making it easier to buy but no less easier to find information on. The Power Stone manga goes for 300 Yen on Amazon Japan, but the Wikia’s coverage is incomplete. Bummer.
I think the point I’m trying to make is that it’s so easy for stuff to get lost or forgotten about, even in its home territory, and that always bums me out. Tracking down Bomberman crap leads me down so many other avenues, discovering stuff I never knew of and see no one talking about, and all I wanna see is that stuff getting acknowledged in some manner before it goes kaput. Sometimes it gets reissued, sometimes it even gets translated, but it’s all down to who wants it, really!
For instance, Udon have surprised folks with official English releases of the Street Fighter Zero and III manga that were originally serialised in Gamest magazine, and even the Captain Commando manga! Would Nintendo or SEGA ever reissue the likes of these? Probably not! I seem to recall Nintendo rereleased the Mario and Zelda Nintendo Power comics a year or two ago, possibly as Club Nintendo rewards, but that was likely because it required no effort on their part – just whack a PDF on the site and call it a day.
Fan preservation efforts seem to be the best bet for ever spreading and reading these, but at the end of the day it boil down to the following:
1) Are you passionate enough about the source material?
2) Are you stupid enough to track it down in the first place?
3) Are you even able to read it, you numpty?
And 4) Have you got a place to host it where it won’t vanish off the face of the earth for some arbitrary reason?
I’ve been tempted to make an all-purpose page for scans and whatnot, though the sketchy legality of it is a bit worrying – on one hand all those book scans on my Bomberman site are a bit of a no-no, but on the other hand, what point is there in issuing a takedown over video game guidebooks from a billion years ago they no longer make a profit from, never mind a manga meant to promote a video game that’s no longer on sale? (and I’m even dubious about that argument because it seems just a few steps away from finding ways to say you’re entitled to everything under the sun)
Long story short: I’m a grumbly goose and I’d like it if people documented rare crap more often.
(i’ll probably find a place to share these manga in future, don’t you worry)