...bibliographic notes about manga...

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…

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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.

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Checking Out Manga – Three Online Manga Readers

Image: Screen Captures of 3 Featured Manga Reader Catalogs:
ShonenJump+, Manga Library Z, and Sukima

By Chase Conner

Hello again, everyone. I hope the new year is being kind to you all. Today we’d like to return to our list of online manga resources compiled originally by Michiko Ito at UKansas. So let’s look at some of the list’s “Open Access Comics,” which allow us to read manga for free online! There is a plethora of content available on the Internet these days, and many manga publishers have jumped on the bandwagon to provide online comic apps. In addition to newly published manga, we can find many out-of-print comics that have found new life through online manga readers. Let’s get started and take a look at a few resources for accessing some.

ShonenJump+ Website Banner

少年ジャンプ+ (Shonen Jump+)

Shonen Jump has always been a big name in the industry and one that anyone with a passing interest in manga is likely aware of. Given its vast influence and collection of popular print titles, it’s no surprise that Shonen Jump is a leader in the digital comic market. On the Shonen Jump+ site, many segments of their popular manga titles — including One Piece, Death Note, Dragonball, Naruto, and more – are available at no cost! A good number of chapters are available for free, but newer chapters require the purchase of “points,” which users must redeem in order to read. While paying for points is certainly an option, this post aims to highlight its many great “open access” offerings as well.

MangaToshokanZ Website Banner

マンガ図書館Z (Manga Library Z) []

マンガ図書館Z (manga toshokan Z) or Manga Library Z is another site that offers plenty of manga completely free of charge. Specifically, the titles included here include numerous out-of-print series that have been granted uploading rights by the original creators. While its various titles are not as widely known as Shonen Jump+’s, researchers and manga fans alike will certainly value this web site for its older and off-the-beaten-path titles. In addition to the many free manga on this site, there is also some adult-oriented manga, which are locked behind a paywall. Because you might encounter images of these adult titles while browsing the front page, I would advise exercising caution when browsing, especially if you have privacy concerns.

Sukima Website Banner


Sukima is yet another valuable online resource for reading manga in Japanese. The Sukima site essentially operates like many other online manga readers that sell access to large collections of titles — including the more recent volumes – through a pay-per-point redemption system. Despite this limitation, I find that Sukima’s big appeal is that it also offers a plethora of new and old manga titles completely free of charge! It’s true that the open access manga tend to lean towards older and lesser known titles, but among these you’ll also find some of the popular classic titles like Kimagure Orange Road or even more recent titles like Gokushufudō (Way of the House Husband). You’ll definitely want to take a trip through Sukima’s library. While an account is not required to read the free manga, users must create a username and password to purchase or peruse some of the more mature titles for the 18-and-over crowd.

I recommend that anyone check out these three sites to see what titles you can find — You may just find something new and interesting! If you encounter something that you would you like to read in print at OSU Libraries, please feel free to contact OSU’s Japanese Studies Librarian, Ann Marie Davis,  at, with questions and suggestions.


Learning Japanese with Comics – Three Helpful Manga Series

By Chase Conner

Hello again, everyone! I hope you all had a safe and enjoyable holiday. If you are a language student like myself, then you might recognize that textbooks and class exercises can only carry you so far. It might be time to branch out into other areas to further your language comprehension and even apply your knowledge in more practical ways. To that end, why not try your hand at reading some comics? While many of us are fans of manga translated or written in English, we haven’t yet taken the plunge into reading manga in Japanese.

Reading comics is a great way to put your acquired foreign language skills into practice. More importantly, it’s a fun way to build more skills. For students of Japanese, manga is an easy-to-use resource for putting all the kanji you’ve learned into context. The sound effects in manga also offer fundamental lessons. Since Japanese is a language in which mimetic words (onomatopoeia and the like) are used regularly, it’s a good idea to start familiarizing yourself with Japanese’s vast library of sound symbolic words and phrases!

Not sure where to start your manga journey? Then this blog is for you! In this post, I will recommend three titles from the  OSU collections that offer great places to start.

Yotsuba&! (よつばと!)by Kiyohiko Azuma

Available in both Japanese and English, this series is a slice-of-life/comedy that follows the daily life of the titular character, Yotsuba Koiwai, and her comical naivety. The title is so popular that chances are, you may have already heard of this series!

Yotsuba& is often hailed by many as a great entry manga for those learning Japanese, and it’s easy to see why. The plots are generally self-contained and easy to follow, the vocabulary is not too complicated, and more importantly, it’s a fun and charming read! The series is so widely read that a simple Google search will yield a number of digitized copies and even helpful vocabulary lists and more! Since OSU has the first twelve volumes in the original Japanese, I’ve taken the liberty of borrowing them from the library myself and have been enjoying them thoroughly while stuck at home.

Shirokuma Café(白くまカフェby Aloha Higa

Shirokuma Café, or “Polar Bear Café”, is another comedic slice-of-life manga (are you noticing a trend here?) starring a trio of zoo animals: Polar Bear, Panda, and Penguin. The three often get involved in various misadventures with other animals and humans. This is another good manga to utilize for studying purposes as, similar to Yotsuba&, it’s relatively simple to follow and makes use of many common vocabulary words and expressions. For better or worse,  the character of Polar Bear has a tendency to love using puns within the story, so if you are just getting acquainted with Japanese, some of them may be confusing and hard to understand. Currently, we have volumes 1-5 available in Japanese.

Chi’s Sweet Home (チーズスイートホーム)by Kanata Konami

This is a series for all the cat lovers out there. Chi is a little kitten that has gotten separated from her mother and is taken in by the Yamada family, after she is discovered by the Yamada’s young son. In the end, he decides to keep her and raise her in their home, and what ensues are cute and silly cat antics as Chi tries to make sense of her home. This is yet another, you guessed it, slice-of-life manga.  The first 4 volumes of the Japanese version are available at the library, as well as 11 volumes in English. This is a really relaxing read with a cute and simple art style that will endear readers to Chi’s character, and it is very easy for beginners of Japanese to pick up!

These three titles are by no means an exhaustive list of language learning-friendly manga.  However, they are among the most highly recommended for students of all levels. With a good amount of supplemental resources such as online vocabulary lists and bilingual translations, they will give you plenty to do during the first winter months of 2021! Take a look if you’re interested!



Checking out Manga – “This is Gakushū Manga, too!”

Written by Chase Conner (Class of 2021), with intro by Ann Marie L. Davis

Last March, shortly after the pandemic lockdown, I posted the blog “Manga Resources While Teaching and Learning from Home.” Since then, I have wanted to explore its many sites and share what I learned with everyone here. This semester, with the help of manga enthusiast and Japanese Studies major, Chase Conner (Class of 2021), we’re finally able to do this! In the new blog series, “Checking out Manga,” Chase will evaluate online manga resources as well as relevant print manga that can be checked out (literally!) from OSU Libraries. With each post, the series will highlight at least one open access manga site as well as related print manga available at our library. For the very first post in this series, Chase explores the site Kore mo gakushū manga da (これも学習マンガだ, or “This is Gakushū Manga, too”) below.


Image of the “This is Gakushū Manga, too!” home page.

Hello, everyone! It’s autumn already, and you know what that means: it’s the perfect time to relax somewhere cozy with a good book or comic to read and appreciate the scenery. Hopefully, we can help you find something interesting while furthering your studies along the way! Today we’re going to be looking into one of the websites included in the wonderful list of online manga resources compiled by Michiko Ito of the University of Kansas. Since many students and faculty are looking for interesting teaching and learning tools, I feel that the best place to start is with the site Kore mo gakushū manga da (これも学習マンガだ).

What is Gakushū Manga?

First things first — What is gakushū manga (学習マンガ)? Translated as “educational manga” or “manga study guides,” gakushū manga is a sub-genre of Japanese comics intended to teach readers about a specific topic in a variety of academic disciplines.  In addition to targeting elementary and high school students (studying history, math, art, or literature, for example), gakushū manga is also written for adults seeking information on topics from home improvement to budgeting, folk crafting, and more!

A List of 200 Recommended Gakushū Manga and Manga Learning Supplements

The web site Kore mo gakushū manga da offers a nifty compilation of manga titles that are not strictly gakushū manga, but that cover various academic topics that can be used as learning supplements. Compiled by the Nippon Foundation, its listings are tailored to promote manga that offer “fun while learning,” an idea known as “edutainment.” Its list currently includes 200 titles divided into eleven different categories (such as history, lifestyle, literature, and sports).  Visitors to this website can view the list at a glance by downloading the website handbook, or they can browse these categories online. Though the website is written entirely in Japanese, its recommendations are created with both native Japanese speakers and language learners in mind. Therefore, it can be a great learning resource whether you’re interested in reading comics in Japanese or finding English translations. Kore mo Gakushū Manga itself is not a resource that links to actual full text manga. Instead, it points readers to different works for use in Japanese Studies and language acquisition.

Browsing the List of Manga

One of the first things users will see when visiting Gakushū Manga is the genre search bar, which lists the Foundation’s eleven different categories.  Clicking on any one of these will show you all the manga within that category.

From right to left, the categories are Literature, Life and World, Art, Society, Work, History, War, Living, Science and Learning, Sports, and Diverse Topics. If you have a good idea what you’re looking for, you can narrow your search even more, with options to choose the date when the work was added to the collection, whether its series has ended or is still ongoing, and whether its age appropriate for younger readers (though it may do well to keep in mind that what is considered appropriate for younger audiences may differ across cultures)! When the search engine returns its results, each title has a handy hyperlink to a page with author and artist info, as well as a short blurb about the contents of the work and the reason for its inclusion in the list of recommendations.

The collection includes familiar titles to fans of modern manga, such as Fullmetal Alchemist and Mushishi, as well as older classics

Keeping in mind the intent of the site, any of the recommended manga would serve as great resources for learning Japanese language, history, culture, and much more!

Accessing and reading these manga at OSU Libraries

If anything piques your interest, the site provides further information on how to purchase the titles from several online Japanese retailers. Moreover, a good number of these comics can be found in Japanese and English translation in OSU’s manga collection! Therefore, we encourage our users to have a look! Most of these titles (about 65% of OSU’s manga collection) are circulating and therefore can be freely borrowed from OSU Libraries.  Still others might be housed in special collections and can be viewed in the Reading Room (with an appointment during the pandemic) at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. For titles that are not yet part of our manga collection, OSU students and faculty are strongly encouraged to reach out and make a request! You can provide suggestions and feedback to help build our manga collection by contacting OSU’s Japanese Studies Librarian, Ann Marie Davis, anytime at

Additional links and resources:

For a closer look into gakushū manga available at OSU Libraries: Educational manga (学習漫画) at Ohio State Libraries:

For those interested in English translations of Koremo gakushū manga da’s contents, one need look no further than that of the the Japan Foundation: Japan Foundation’s “Kore mo gakushū manga da” catalogue.


“PICTURE THIS: Traveling Through Time with Japanese Art and Manga”! K-12 Webinar Featuring Rare Tōkaidō Manga Scrolls

Come join us in an upcoming webinar on the “Journey along the Tōkaidō,” a set of engaging online K-12 teaching resources highlighting Japanese art, history, and geography. Entitled PICTURE THIS: Traveling Through Time with Japanese Art and Manga,” the event, slated for October 10, 2020, is open to teachers and administrators from any state. Participants will discover new ways to engage students in this exploration of Japan’s most important trade route, the Eastern Sea Route (the Tōkaidō) with a special focus on the rare Tōkaidō manga scrolls, housed at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum (BICLM).  The historic Tōkaidō Road once connected the political capital of Edo (present-day Tokyo) to the former imperial capital of Kyoto during the Tokugawa era (1603-1868).  Suitable for remote and in-person teaching, the lessons of the “Journey along the Tōkaidō” emphasize change over time while comparing global cultures through the lenses of art and manga from Early Modern and Modern Japan (ca. 1800s to 1930s).  

Illustrated Japanese scroll among other Billy Ireland manga pieces

In the image above, the Tōkaidō manga scrolls are on display at a recent open house. The bottom half of the image shows the first two watercolors of scroll number one (上): Nihonbashi and Shinjuku Stations. In the upper left corner is the second scroll (下), nesting in its wooden containing box. To the right of the box is a rare picture book of the Great Kantō Earthquake (1923), also created by the Tokyo Manga Association.

The Tōkaidō Manga Scrolls

Formally titled “Tōkaidō gojūsantsugi manga emaki,” the Tōkaidō manga scrolls were hand painted by 18 members of the Tokyo Manga Association around 1921. Their unique visual depictions of the various sites along the Tōkaidō offered a compelling interpretation of pre-war manga vis-à-vis The 53 stations along the Tōkaidō (Tōkaidō Gojūsan-tsugi), a set of iconic woodblock prints created roughly a century earlier by artist Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858). The group of artists was led by Okamoto Ippei, one of the most popular manga artists of his time, on a journey by automobile stopping at each of the Tōkaidō’s stations. The manga artists hoped to raise the social standing of their craft by indirectly comparing their work to that of venerated woodblock printmakers of the past. Although the style of the scrolls’ watercolors differs considerably from what one might recognize as a “manga” today, the artists’ quick, spontaneous work somewhere on the edge of caricature was an undeniably important steppingstone toward the popular, modern manga style. Prominent artists in the pre-war era, many of the members of the Tokyo Manga Association contributed topical drawings to urban newspapers and taught others about cartooning.

Additional Resources 

In addition to the Tōkaidō manga scrolls, the Tokyo Manga Association created a number of unique materials, some of which are held at BICLM.  In the upper right  corner of the photograph above, for instance, is the book Daishinsai gashū (大震災画集, “Picture Collection of the Great Earthquake”), published in 1923. 

For a more thorough background on this unique piece, 

To learn more about related materials at the Ohio State University Libraries, please contact Japanese Studies Librarian, Ann Marie Davis.

K-12 Webinar Post-Event Update

Led by Angie Stokes, art teacher at Wayne Trace Junior/Senior High School in Haviland, Ohio, and Ann Marie Davis, Japanese Studies Librarian at OSU, the event was held on Saturday, October 10 (1:00-3:00PM) and coordinated by the East Asian Studies Center (EASC).  Angie Stokes discussed various aspects of the Journey Along the Tōkaidō curriculum, focusing on lessons she has used in her own junior high and high school classrooms. Ann Marie Davis provided a virtual tour of OSU’s manga collection and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, with a special focus on the Tōkaidō Manga scrolls and related treasures.

Webinar Slides and other Resources:  

Manga Resources While Teaching and Learning from Home

“Girl in Mask” clip from the anime Laughing Salesman
(笑ゥせぇるすまん) Ep. 4, adapted from the manga
by the same title created by Fujiko A. Fujio,

One of my colleagues, Michiko Ito, Japanese Studies Librarian at the University of Kansas, recently put together a truly fantastic library guide that lists tons of links to online, Japanese-language manga (including comics, graphic novels, and anime) and manga resources.  Her collection definitely deserves a shout-out and share, so  I am shamelessly copying much of it verbatim here.  As Ito notes herself, a word of caution and a disclaimer is in order:  This online guide is meant to provide links to web resources created by third parties. Contents available through these websites may contain materials not suitable for educational purposes. The compiler of this guide has no control over these websites and cannot be held responsible for website contents.

To jump down to the various sections below, click on the section guide you want to see first:

Open Access Comics,
Websites by Comic Publishers,
Serialized Web Comics,
E-comic Stores,
Online Archives and Databases, and
Organizations, Museums, and Institutes.

Open Access Comics

This section lists individual Open Access (=free) manga, selected by Ito:

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Websites by Comic Publishers

The following websites are operated by major comic publishers to announce their new comic publications. Some publishers separately operate serialized web comics (see the section immediately below.) Free previews are available:

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Serialized Web Comics (includes free previews)

This section lists selected websites for serialized web comics, most of which are operated by well-known comic publishers. Each website includes dozens of titles, and in most cases, the first few episodes and the most recent episodes are available for free. Registration and/or purchase is often required to read full contents, such as when users are required to purchase “coins” or “points” to read chapters. Note: some of these services are limited to within Japan, and some require credit cards issued in Japan.

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E-comic Stores

Many of these E-comic store websites provide free previews, and they typically require membership or registration for purchase.  As with the list above, some services are limited to within Japan and/or require  a credit card issued in Japan. (If your membership is canceled, you may not retain access to the materials you purchased.)

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Other Comic Websites

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Online Archives and Databases

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Organizations, Museums, Institutes


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“Ohio State Manga Collection at Ohayocon!”

Last month, our manga collection was featured at the 2020 Ohayocon, and then, as a result, in the student-run newspaper, The Lantern. We have been so very proud and grateful for this unique opportunity to share information about our wonderful collection!

Thanks to a lovely invitation to participate from the Japan-American Society of Central Ohio (JASCO), we were able to offer a table display in the Yuki Matsuri room at the Con, and we also held a well-attended panel presentation (full of cosplayers in the audience) on Manga at Ohio State University Libraries. If you check out the video, you’ll see that the members of our panel were me (Ann Marie Davis, Japanese Studies Librarian); Kapil Vasudev, Education Librarian; and Kay Clopton, Mary P. Key Cultural Diversity Inquiry Resident Librarian. Covering our activities at this event was student journalist, Aaron Lien, who in turn published the following video article about our work: 


Thank you so much, Aaron!

Ohio State Manga Collection at Ohayocon

A Brief Introduction to Manga for Teachers, Part 2

Written by Guest Contributor Kapil Vasudev, Education Librarian

This is the second in a series of posts introducing teachers to manga. The previous post covered the origins of manga and the manga publishing industry. This week’s post will explain how to read manga and manga visual shorthand. It will conclude with a classroom activity inspired by manga’s visual style.

A Brief Introduction to Manga for Teachers, Part 2

How to Read Manga

Manga translated and published in English was originally flipped in orientation so that it could be read from left to right. However, due to production costs, a desire to reduce the length of translation from Japanese to English, and an interest in creating a reading experience more akin to reading manga in Japan, manga in English is mostly published right to left. This creates an obstacle for English readers who are not used to reading in that direction.

A guide depicting the proper order for reading panels on a manga page.
(Source: Wikihow)

In general, manga will be read from right to left and then top to bottom. This applies to reading both the panels in a page as well as the speech bubbles within each panel.

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