My fixation on shoujo manga started after I finished all Sailor Moon episodes. I felt incredibly empty. After all, after 200 episodes and several movies and specials, it felt like the Sailor senshi were my best friends. So when I found out that the Sailor Moon manga is the basis for its anime and that it's virtually like reading an entirely different story, I immediately got onto Buy.com and got all 18 volumes of it. I spent an entire Saturday plowing through all of it. Over a hundred bucks worth of books, and it only took one day to read them all. These manga artists and writers need to make their stories longer.
Back then, I've yet to find out that I don't usually have the luxury of reading a complete set of English manga for any title I like. Older anime like Sailor Moon and Marmalade Boy already have all their volumes officially translated. However, more recent anime are still works in progress, and it takes a long time for the publishers to put them out. Installments would get published in magazines, and after a while, volumes would be released. If the title is licensed in the U.S., then the English version of the volume would be released in about a year or so, if not longer. Subsequent volumes will be released at least two months after.
How the hell can I satisfy my manga appetite when it takes so long for these things to get completed?! I actually don't have an answer to that yet. All I'm sure of right now is that I'm incredibly reluctant to start an unfinished series because it'll take me a day to go through what's already out there and then twiddle my thumbs and wait for the subsequent installments. I want to get it all over and done with in one sitting.
Do I listen to common sense and avoid in-progress titles? Noo-oo. For instance, I just can't stay away from Yu Watase's work. Sure, she makes all these sequels to the stuff she already has, but most of her work is fantastic. And with all these Yahoo! discussion groups talking about how great her latest series are, who am I to refuse? It's only more excuse for me to procrastinate on grading papers about procrastination (that's so ironic, but it actually happened).
So yeah, I find out about good manga series on Yahoo! groups that I sign up with. There are also these shoujo fan websites that recommend good titles to check out. Because of my interest in manga, I learned to get on IRC. Hanging around in IRC channels also familiarized me to more manga titles out there. And last, but not the least, I typically check out the manga of great anime I liked. Sailor Moon was the first, followed by Fushigi Yuugi, Ayashi no Ceres, Marmalade Boy, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, and so on. Typically manga-based anime have already completed the manga, so this is a good way for me to find series that I can read right away.
Manga certainly has a lot of advantages over anime. I can read manga as fast as I want to. It doesn't necessarily take me as long as half an hour to go through one volume, compared to an anime episodes. Anime episodes just seem so... inflexible with respect to scheduling. And I can take manga volumes to the bathroom!
But seriously, manga definitely provides some things that anime is unable to. For starters, it can go places where mainstream anime cannot. While anime's certainly a lot better at depicting vivid scenes (it's kind of hard to match the impact of seeing red blood splash all over the place on TV versus seeing lots of black ink splattered on paper), manga characters' relationships are developed in greater detail. Manga characters also have all these side comments that are not captured by the anime. And the mangaka usually establish a personal relationship with his or her readers by writing random notes about their writing process or interests in-between the pages. Finally, I do think there's just something cool about manga leaving something to the imagination, ne?
Just like in anime, I will be talking about manga stories in great detail, which would typically involve lots of spoilers. I have less reservations about discussing manga endings for some reason. Maybe because more people can flip to the back of a book (okay, a more correct term for manga would be volume) and see the ending as opposed to watching the last episode in an anime series. Hmm. That's actually a question of availability and the number of people...books and comics are more accessible media compared to TV shows. Maybe if anime is as mainstream as printed materials, then there would be a greater incidence of people watching the last episode in a series. Hmm. Not even sure if I'm making sense here...