Growing up during the early days of the mainstream internet was very exciting. New online avenues opened up before my eyes and allowed me to interact with media in a new way. When Toonami wasn't on, I could watch anime on Youtube. When I wasn't satisfied with the end of a story, I could read a different version with an ending I liked. The first time I started reading manga online was in high school after finally finding a trustworthy site. Before that, in order to engage in our favorite stories and worlds, my brother and I had to buy manga. And we collected a lot (check out our shelf here). Reading the physical volumes was how I fell in love with some of my favorite series like Rurouni Kenshin and Naruto.
In my college years, I read most my manga online. It was easy to pretend to do work and read manga while in class. Also, without an income and my parents’ past support of the hobby, I was out of cash. Reading online was free. Illegal, but free. I consumed manga like a maniac while in school. It became a part of my routine that I loved.
After reading so much manga online, the last couple months have been very refreshing. My friends and I have been trading manga around. That’s something I love about the physical volumes: anyone can read them! I’ve been rereading some of my favorite childhood series and getting into some new ones. I’m about to reread Buso Renkin and Tegami Bachi. My friend Mike is lending me Inuyasha. My friend Colby is lending me Berserk.
Berserk is making me realize how much I missed reading physical manga. True, the feeling of curling up on the couch after a long day with good book is unmatched. But it’s more than that. There is something extraordinary about Berserk that demands you to read it physically. Colby told me that the mangaka Kentaro Miura has his doctorate in art history. One, that’s absolutely insane. Two, you can totally tell. Each frame of this manga is overflowing with minute artistic details that make it stand above the rest. Berserk is a tour de force of pen and ink; it’s a hand-drawn masterpiece.
I think reading manga like this through their physical volumes is important. Would you truly be able to appreciate every stroke of Miura’s pen while looking at it on a screen? The internet is made to let a user do everything quickly and efficiently. Read a page. Click next. Keep going. That’s not the way someone should read Berserk. Wrapped in that blanket on my couch after a long day of work, I can take the time to witness every ounce of Miura’s talent. I can bring the book up to my nose and admire his detailed armies, run my fingers over the cracks in Gut’s sword. There’s a reason why people go to museums. Yes, you can look at pictures of the Mona Lisa or Las Meninas online, but there’s something different about seeing it in person. I feel that way about Berserk. This is an art piece that needs to be seen live… or as live as a manga can be.
I’ve read manga both ways throughout my life but will always prefer the physical over the virtual. I got a Kindle for Christmas and try really hard to like it. Still, I can’t seem to get used to it. The joys of a physical book outweigh the digital and it took a gory, over-the-top fantasy masterpiece to remind me of that. I could read Berserk online. I would able to catch up and join the online conversation. But I'm holding myself back because I truly want to treasure its beauty. Thanks, Berserk. Now I have to wait for Colby to buy more. Only 15 volumes to go...