...bibliographic notes about manga...

More “Boys’ Love” (or “BL”) Titles Donated to the Manga Collection!

Part of a wonderful anonymous donation added recently to the general collections.

The genre known as “boys’ love (BL)” or “yaoi” is deep and expansive, covering all manner of settings, scenarios, and characters. Collecting LGBT+ manga titles is a priority for us, and so we are thrilled to acquire these books through a recent gift in kind from several donors! Here are some highlights that are now available for check-out in our circulating collections:

Cover art for "Ten Count" vol. 1 [Aug. 9, 2016]

Cover art for “Ten Count” vol. 1 [Aug. 9, 2016]

First on the list is Ten Count, an award-winning series by Rihito Takarai. Ten Count follows Tadaomi Shirotani, a salaryman plagued with obsessive-compulsive disorder that manifests in his intense germophobia. In order to improve his condition, Shirotani is instructed by a therapist, Riku Kurose, to write a list of ten actions he is unable to do, and then he is to work toward completing each one as a form of exposure therapy. However, things get complicated when Kurose falls in love with Shirotani. What secrets will come out as their relationship intensifies?

Continue reading

Glimpses from the Vault: The Tokyo Puck (Tōkyō pakku) Originals and Reprints

Among the many unique manga serials held at OSU’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (BICLM) are three original issues of Tokyo Puck (東京パック), an early Japanese satirical comic newspaper launched by Kitazawa Rakuten (北沢楽天, 1876-1955) and published from 1905 to 1923 (with a 5-year interruption circa the First World War). This Japanese manga newspaper was inspired by the American magazine Puck (published from 1877 to 1918), one of the earliest humor magazines in the US to solely feature cartoons, caricatures, and political satire.

Colorful newspaper cover page with a geisha, flying beer bottles and a drunken soldier

The cover page of an issue of Tokyo Puck (Volume 2, Number 11, published June 1, 1906), held at the BICLM. PN6790.J32 T65 v.2:no.11

Recently I had the opportunity to click some pictures of two of our Tokyo Puck issues during a class visit with students from “The Art of Colonial Taiwan,” (ArtHist 5002). In addition to our Tokyo Puck samples, the students in this class browsed a variety of materials depicting Taiwan and other Japanese colonies in historical cartoon maps, water colors, and artist scrolls created by famous manga artists of the early 20th century.

Continue reading

Manga Zasshi Hakubutsukan

Are you interested in the history of cartoons and comic art in Japan? If so, you will definitely want to check out the anthology  Manga Zasshi Hakubutsukan (漫画雑誌博物館/Manga Magazine Museum), held at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (BICLM), as well as in our Kinokuniya Digital Library (KinoDen) online. The chief editor of this  twelve-volume set is Isao SHIMIZU (清水勲), a well-known manga historian and scholar who published over 100 books and articles during his lifetime.

Figure `1. Cover image of one of Japan’s earliest manga magazines, Tokyo pakku. Courtesy of

Covering the history of manga at the turn of the 20th century, Manga Zasshi Hakubutsukan (漫画雑誌博物館/Manga Magazine Museum) offers select issues of some of the earliest and most innovative satirical magazines printed in Japan. To get a taste of the various titles covered in this anthology, let’s look at some of the highlights!

Volume 1 and 2 of this series is a reprint of Marumaru Chinbun (團團珍聞), a satirical journal published weekly between 1877-1907. Founded by Nomura Fumio 野村文夫 (1836-91), a former official of the Meiji government, this early periodical followed the style of British satire and humor magazines. Satirizing the government in articles, comics, haiku, and caricatures, this serial also covered pivotal events such as the Movement for Civil Rights and Freedom (自由民権運動, Jiyū Minken Undō) of the late 1800s.

Continue reading

The Fumio Fujiki and Tokio Tobita Collection of Manga, Part II

The following is Part II of a two-part essay that was published on the Spotlights blog of the The North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC) in October 2022. The essay was co-written by Jeremy Joseph (OSU Class of 2024) and Japanese Studies Librarian, Dr. Ann Marie Davis. Part I of this essay is available here.

Capturing the Mundane to the Extraordinary: Tobita’s Valuable Sketches

A trove of details, from the mundane to the extraordinary, about life at Sugamo naturally surfaced as a result of this Project. For example, extensive interviews with Tobita revealed that he began gifting his art to fellow inmates at the behest of Prince Nashimoto Morimasa, an uncle-in-law of Emperor Shōwa and Tobita’s fellow inmate and confidant at Sugamo. When Prince Nashimoto was released in April 1946, he asked Tobita to offer him one of his drawings as a parting gift.

Figure 5. In “Inmates Sleeping in a Cell,” Tokio Tobita depicts convicts suffering haunting nightmares as well as a cacophony of late-night prison sounds. The emblem “American Red Cross” is visible on the backside of a presumably rationed and donated leaf of paper. Pencil on paper, 13.8 × 21.5 cm. Fumio Fujiki and Tokio Tobita collection, The Ohio State University, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum; SPEC.CGA.SUG.2012.

Tobita had drawn pictures for himself in private, but he had never shared his work before the prince’s request. After some thought, he drafted a cartoon-like watercolor, entitled Senpan haishoku no zu (roughly translated, “An Illustration of the Cafeteria Line for War Criminals”) in which about two dozen Class-A and Class-C suspects, including Hideki Tojo, Prince Nashimoto, and Tobita himself, stand in single file as they advance toward a meal distribution table. At the head of the line, a couple of men bow to fellow prisoners who are serving their food. An American serviceman stands by idly observing with a cigarette in his mouth.

After composing this watercolor, Tobita began drawing manically to alleviate his extreme anxiety and fear of execution as he awaited sentencing before the Tokyo Trials. Reflecting this mood, his earliest drawings took up haunting scenes, such as the routine cavity searches of naked convicts and the confiscation of shaving razors by guards at public baths. In one such troubled drawing (Figure 5), a prisoner struggles with insomnia while his cell mates sleep through an onslaught of threatening noises that breach the vent in their prison cell door. While most of the men snore, two are shown experiencing dark nightmares, as indicated by image-filled “speech” bubbles, one with a horn-headed monster and the other a knife-wielding assailant and bomber plane flying overhead.

Figure 6. The cover page of P-ko Sugamo Seikatsu, a scrapbook containing sixty-six sheets of hand-colored 4-coma (4 panels per page) “gag” manga strips by Fumio Fujiki. This serialized cartoon strip, named after the “everyman” prisoner, “Mr. P-ko” often appeared in the bi-weekly prison newspaper, “Sugamo Shimbun.” Hand painted on paper, 24.8 x 17.1 cm. Fumio Fujiki and Tokio Tobita collection, The Ohio State University, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum; SPEC.CGA.SUG.2012.

Continue reading

The Fumio Fujiki and Tokio Tobita Collection of Manga, Part I

The following is Part I of a two-part essay that was previously published on the Spotlights blog of the The North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC). It was co-written by Jeremy Joseph (OSU Class of 2024) and Japanese Studies Librarian, Dr. Ann Marie Davis. Note: To conform with library collection titles, all Japanese names in this article follow Western conventions with given names appearing first and family names last.

The cover page of Sugamo Life

Figure 1. The cover page of Sugamo Life, a sketch book containing 65 rough cartoons by convicted war criminal Fumio Fujiki. The original art cover verso has a brief handwritten description identifying the images as rough sketches from Sugamo Prison sent by request to the U.S. Department of State. Watercolor and ink, 20 × 28 cm. Fumio Fujiki and Tokio Tobita collection, The Ohio State University, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum; SPEC.CGA.SUG.2012

Emblematic of rare and distinctive manga collection at OSU is the Fumio Fujiki and Tokio Tobita Collection, held at the University Libraries’ Billy Ireland Cartoon & Library Museum (BICLM). Stored in a full-size document box (measuring 5 inches in width), the collection is relatively small, yet offers a seismic punch. Its many files of sketches and cartoons offer first hand testimony to the daily experiences of roughly 2,000 alleged and convicted war criminals incarcerated at Sugamo Prison (巣鴨拘置所 Sugamo Kōchiso) after World War II. The sketches also reveal everyday interactions between Japanese Prisoners of War and American guards during the post-war occupation era (1945-52). The act of producing such art was, in itself, a significant gesture that not only reduced the anxieties of prison life but also served as a vehicle for meaningful exchanges between the Japanese inmates and American GIs running the prison.

Continue reading

Donation: The Miyake Collection

Cover image of a newly ingested issue
of Mangajin, Vol. 1, No. 4, October 1990.

Recently we received a wonderful donation of manga and manga ephemera from Dr. Lynne Miyake, manga scholar and Emerita Professor of Japanese at Pomona College. With a plethora of unique titles, I’d like to introduce just a few of the exciting finds that are now available through this donation!

Are you a fan of manga magazines? If so, this is the collection for you. The Miyake donation adds 94 manga volumes from a variety of genres and titles from the years 2002 to 2016 to our holdings. These include lesser-known to more mainstream titles such as Shonen Jump, Morning, Cheri+, Ciel, OTAKU USA, and more. Many of these volumes fill in gaps in our catalog for circulating manga as well as special collections at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. For instance, thanks to the Miyake donation (which adds volumes from May through December 2003), our holdings of of Shonen Jump now run uninterrupted from 2003 to 2009!

Kashimashi Vol. 1 by Satoru Akahori
(あかほりさとる) and illustrated
by Yukimaru Katsura (桂遊生丸)

If understanding Japanese manga in translation or research on earlier manga culture is your thing, you’ll be happy to hear that we have also ingested three additional volumes of Mangajin, the definitive manga magazine in the U.S. pre-2000, dating from 1990 and 1993.

Aside from these, the majority of the magazines are from well-known boys’ love (BL) publications, a welcome addition to the Cartoon Library collection, which emphasizes LGBT+ titles. In fact, one of the strengths of this donation is its LGBT+ offerings, both in English and Japanese.

For example, we now have several volumes of Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, a quirky yuri (or “girls love”) comedy about a male student who dies and is resurrected as female. Suddenly the girl she likes, who is only capable of noticing other girls, is falling for her. But soon a love triangle forms and the complicated story twists even more! Though it may seem strange on the surface, this title has been praised for its unique story and characters and is definitely worth a look.

Tokyo Babylon written and
illustrated by CLAMP

We also now have volumes one through seven of Tokyo Babylon in English, a series mentioned in our April 2021 blog “Checking Out Manga.” Published by acclaimed all-female manga circle CLAMP, “Tokyo Babylon” chronicles sorcerer Subaru’s work solving mysteries while adding a boys’ love twist later into the plot.

Finally, this donation also adds several unique art books to the distinctive holdings, held at BICLM. Of these, possibly the most stunning is Der Mond: The Art of Neon Genesis Evangelion based on the tremendously popular manga and anime series Neon genesis Evangelion. This art book is for the fans especially, but also those who are interested in learning more about the visuals. A large format print, the book brings to life the world of Evangelion’s manga adaptation in full color.

Der Mond by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

There are so many more books as well as other rare and distinctive materials, including posters, conference booklets, and even original art! Stay tuned as we continue to process these unique materials and make them available for research and teaching.  In the mean time, we’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Professor Miyake for her generous donation!

A Near-Complete Run: The Bungei Shunjū, Manga Tokuhon Magazine Series

We are proud to announce that we now have a near-complete run of Bungei Shunjū: Manga Tokuhon (文藝春秋 漫画讀本), a core manga magazine of the 20th century. Held at the Libraries’ Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, the series is comprised of 170 volumes published from the 1950s to 1970s. With this recent acquisition, Ohio State has the largest holdings of this title in North America.

“Special Issue” label Manga
in [5 Sept. 1950]

The parent magazine of Bungei Shunjū: Manga Tokuhon, Bungei Shunjū, was established by Kan Kikuchi (菊池寛) in 1923 and began as an essay magazine. Still in publication today, it contains a variety of essays and critiques written by individuals from all disciplines; artists, politicians, historians, journalists, and more. Though it has a historically conservative slant, Bungei Shunjū has featured articles by authors of all political persuasions.

In 1954, mangaka and animator Ryūichi Yokoyama (横山隆一) approached the CEO of Bungei Shunjū about creating a special edition of solely manga. They immediately phoned the special editions manager, Hiroichi Tagawa (田川博一), and not long after, Manga Tokuhon was born. Though initially its issues were categorized as “special issues” of Bungei Shunjū, it became published as its own magazine with the March 1958 issue. Throughout its run, Manga Tokuhon featured the works of many famous mangaka, including Astro Boy creator and industry legend Osamu Tezuka (手塚治虫).

April issue [1 April 1958]
of Manga Tokuhon

The magazine sold around 300,000 copies in its heyday, yet publication ceased in 1970. After that, two more issues were released as limited edition Bungei Shunjū magazines, comprised of re-prints of prior Manga Tokuhon publications. Since then, the world of Manga Tokuhon has gone dark.

July issue [1 July 1959] of Manga

Shedding light on the state of manga as its popularity took off in intellectual circles as well as mainstream media, this fascinating series holds a critical place in the history of manga magazines and modern manga as a whole. As a repository with particular strengths in original comic strips and manga serials throughout the twentieth century, we are thrilled to make this series available to researchers through the University Libraries. Interested parties can head to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum desk to inquire about using these materials.

Story Spotlight: The Train Man who fell in Love with the Girl, Hermes

After a wee bit of a hiatus, the manga blog is back in business! Although this is a terribly busy time for many people, I’d like to bring to your attention one of the most-read Japanese books since 2000 for your possible reading pleasure. Whether you pick it up now or later, this is a great choice to cozy up with after graduation season.

Densha Otoko (電車男) by Hitori
Nakano, PL873.5.A55 D46 2005

Hitori Nakano’s (中野独人) Densha Otoko (電車男), or “Train Man,” took Japan by storm in 2004. With its unique presentation and quirky plot, it quickly became a sensation across the nation. Densha Otoko details the efforts of our main character, the eponymous “train man,” to romance a woman with whom he had but a brief meeting with after an incident on a train commute. The catch? The train man has never been on a date and has no idea where to start.

If you’ve been on the internet at all over the last 20 years, you may know of 4Channel, or “4Chan.” What you may not know is that the anonymous message board was born out of its (at the time) slightly less problematic predecessor, 2ちゃんねる (ni-channeru), or “2Chan.” Herein lies the unique element of this love story: it plays out entirely over 2Chan. After the aforementioned train incident, in which our hero takes a risk to help several middle-aged women out when an old drunkard harasses them, he acquires the phone number of the one young woman also affected. Wanting to ask her to dinner but lacking any idea how to do this, he takes to 2Chan to share his story and romantic ineptitude. Surprisingly, the people of 2Chan begin to advise him on how to get a date, which quickly snowballs as he meets success. Soon, he is giving his 2Chan helpers progress updates as they continue to aid him toward maybe, just maybe, confessing his feelings for the girl…

Continue reading

Our New and Improved Manga Resource Guide

By Chase Conner

Some of you may have already noticed that our Manga Studies library resource guide has gotten a facelift. If you haven’t checked it out lately, now is the time for a fresh visit! With the recent updates, we wanted our manga guide to better reflect the diversity of our collection and simplify access for researchers and students.

 The most notable change to this guide is its visual overhaul. Upon opening the page, you will be greeted with a lovely assortment of photos of some of our rare and distinctive manga materials stored at The OSU Libraries’ Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. On the right panel, you will now find a navigation box for searching our online library catalog for any piece or title that catches your interest. We’ve also added links to a key word search and a list of manga genre terms to help narrow your online catalog search.

Also on this refreshed guide, you’ll find a showcase of selected manga titles that are available in circulation at OSU. From time to time, we will update this showcase, so please visit us regularly to learn about the latest additions to the collections!

Another change to this guide is a panel of links to manga and anime journals, other relevant OSU library resources, and a small showcase of circulating materials in manga studies. These showcases are by no means a comprehensive but serve as a launching point for helping you find what you need. 

Whether for leisure or research purposes, we hope our new layout will make searching for manga more appealing and approachable. Please check it out sometime and let us know if you have any questions or suggestions for further improvements!

Checking Out Manga — LGBT+ Manga and the Nova Southeastern Donation

Vol. 1 cover art illustrated by CLAMP

By Chase Conner

As a student worker this year, one of my jobs was to help build the manga collection by identifying and recommending a number of new acquisitions. I’m excited to say that many of these included titles with an LGBT focus!

In anticipation of their arrival, I’d like revisit a blog from 2017 about a large donation from Nova Southeastern University that also contained a number of interesting LGBT manga. With over 180 titles, this donation covered a variety of diverse genres and titles spanning the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. Given its LGBT strengths, I decided to take a closer look.

Tokyo Babylon (東京BABYLON):

Among the notable titles in this donation is Tokyo Babylon, a series that ran from 1990 to 1993 and follows the story of Subaru Sumeragi, the 13th head of a sorcerer family known as omnyōji. Published by Shinshokan, Tokyo Babylon was written by the acclaimed all-female manga circle known as CLAMP, who are also known for titles like Cardcaptor Sakura and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, among others.  Their works span a wide variety of themes, including publications in the genre known as BL (Boy’s Love) such as Saint Seiya.

The series Tokyo Babylon begins with a set of self-contained stories about Subaru’s work as an omnyōji solving mysteries relating to the occult. The main drama comes in to play with the introduction of a man named Seishirou who claims to be in love with Subaru. Subaru’s sister, Hokuto, encourages this male-male relationship, but there is more to Seishirou than he lets on. For one, the two may have met once before, and Seishirou’s goals may be in conflict with Subaru’s.

Tokyo Babylon is known for being one of the first mainstream titles to explore homosexual themes, although readers must wait until later in the story to find them. Certain aspects of the plot show their age, such as the ending, which could be said to be a bit tragic for the characters, and the large age difference between the characters of Subaru and Seishirou, which might not sit well with modern audiences. The series X (Ekkisu), a sequel to Tokyo Babylon, is a continuation of some of the plot threads from Tokyo Babylon while focusing on a new set of protagonists. The ultimate fate of the characters of Tokyo Babylon is explored in more detail in this latter series.

Continue reading

« Older posts