close enough
This is not the disguise I was referring to, it was the one with the mask over the face, but hopefully this proves a point.

Buying manga, I think is the most ridiculous thing that I have to do in order to get a physical copy of something I enjoy. Sure I could go without buying it, but I want to. The idea of owning something, something that I enjoy, I really like. I also support the official release. Now, you may be wondering, why is it so ridiculous? It is simple. There are only two stores within twenty six miles that I know how to get to that has manga.

Near my school there is a small comic book store. Inside they have a very small amount of manga, most in which is used and incomplete series. I was thinking of picking up AI Love You there, but they were missing a few of the volumes, and since it is no longer published my options are limited.

Then there is another store, Barnes and Noble that has manga. They only have three shelves, and most series, specifically Fairy Tail and D-Frag I cannot get all the volumes since they do not have them all in stock. Then there is another problem that I have which I will get to in just a bit.

So, why do I not just order manga online then? Have it delivered straight to your door. Well, you see, I never really told my parents I am into anime. It has been a secret for the last few years, and well one of my younger brothers know about this hobby of mine and frankly gets annoyed at me. Then there is the main reason.

I could tell my parents, and I knew my dad would not care by any means. My mom, well, she, how do I put this. “You know those weird Japanese cartoons, don’t get into them.” “Her daughter is into those weird Japanese cartoons.” “If they ever start showing those weird Japanese cartoons, just walk away and be like done.” Ironically enough all these statements were made time and time again after the fact I have been into anime for over a year and have been thinking about telling her. I mean sure anime can be a bit weird sometimes, but it really comes down to that stereotype, which my mom jokes a lot about. At the same time she does not understand some things sometimes.

Ironically, shortly after writing that last paragraph I had to stop, so it is the following day working on this post. My dad apparently got a twitter, and because of this my mom now has a twitter. I have no idea how much longer this secret will be kept a secret. Well, it was a good run, and when they do find out, well that will be a post by itself. Again, this part is written after I finished writing the post, five days later. I have nothing to worry about, at least for now.

Anyway back to the topic. I am a person that tends to care what others, specifically family, thinks about me. I think that goes without saying. The people that you talk to in person, well sure some will be around you for a long time, but family can be always there. They also never forget to not let you forget certain things. I do not know how many times my youngest brother brought up the vacation, when he was probably seven, where the bird pooped on my shoulder. In some countries that is considered lucky, I did not feel lucky. He is fifteen now, and granted he has stopped bring it up which is good. Then there is the other younger brother who brings stuff up. They never let me forget some things I wish I could. So naturally I care what my parents think. So, when it comes to ordering manga online, me living at home with them still, I just cannot do it.

Now it is time to get to my other point. Why is it so difficult to buy the manga? Well as I mentioned there are only two stores that have manga in my area and one of the stores, the one with the most manga, my mom works for. This is where the real problem lies.

I need to plan in advance. Her schedule for work is all over the place. At the same time in order to not make it look like I went somewhere after school and being questioned about it, I need to go on days where my first class is late so I have time to go to the store, meaning I only have a window of two days a week, and I have to hope that either of those days she has work that night or no work at all.

My first time going, well, I had an idea of going in somewhat disguised. I have seen a lot of anime, and with the show recently ending called Oreimo, I was thinking of how they do the disguises. Of course if I were to do that, more than likely I would be arrested on the spot. No one dresses like that unless you are going to rob a place. So, my form of a disguise was taking off my glasses, and making my hair messy since it was cheap and I could not get arrested for it.

The selection they have is rather small, well in my mind it is. They do not have many series in complete sets. So series like Fairy Tail, you could only get the first twelve volumes and the latest five volumes at most. At the same time the earliest they get some of the latest releases is the week after they come out, and even then they do not have them all.

My first time going I got Fairy Tail. It was like no other trip before. Mostly because of the events that happened later when I had a slight scare when I thought I felt a lump, turned out guys can have their breast grow bigger too. Never mind that. I can only think of one other  that comes close, since it was last summer when I lived on my own and I needed to know if my mom was working or not. Anyway, it was the last week of summer. My mom was home, and well I had the plan set up.

I get comics from time to time, back then I got a lot more, so a case to hold them was necessary. Naturally I went under the pretenses of going to get comics. I mean manga is sort of comics so I was not lying to her. I also needed to go and get a case, which would act as a place to hide the manga for when I bring it inside. This was before finding a more suitable place in a shoebox under my bed.

Once getting to the store, that was a different story. I did not know about the events that would end up happening. I did not know that there would be several failed attempts since they did not have the manga I was looking for. I did not know of that near instance where my brother almost opened the box that contained all the manga when he was looking for my comics. I was simply in the moment focusing on one thing, getting that physical copy of something I like, something that I can say, “I own this.”

The sense of sheer panic ran through my mind if I was somehow recognized. The only time before when I was in the store with my mom was Christmas that year before, it was August. Still even to this day walking in I have that underlying fear that I will be recognized. The first trip ended with no issues. It was even a good sign that my mom ended up leaving the house giving me some time to read.

My last trip was different a few weeks ago. I walked in like I normally do. My glasses off, until I get to the manga isle. Like normal. My hair a complete mess pulled back to throw people off, although I am now realizing this probably attracts more attention to me then I have planned, which is why I stopped. I am blind and can never see five feet in front of me seemingly when my glasses are off. As I browsed through the selection, mostly failing at ninety percent of what I was looking for squinting by the way. One worker was restocking the area. I did my best to just focus on the task at hand.

I think it was just paranoia. She came back several times and looked at me. I should also add at this point I could tell she would not be interested in a guy like me, which is unless she was a cougar. Even then I doubt that. Since I did not hear anything later, I assume the person could have thought I was my mother’s son, at the same time had no proof. More than likely since my mom would deny the fact I was into manga and not question it.

I should probably bring up the other store. Although the book store has a larger selection, and I can get some of the recent releases only running the risk of being recognized and discovered of this secret hobby. (Joke is on me I talk about this on the internet so everyone but my parents know) The other store has a small, very small collection. Only good news that I recently discovered is they are able to special order some manga, not all, just some. At the same time I can get a student discount, so I save a few bucks. So, there are always ups and downs for both. The only downside is they cannot order everything and it might take three weeks. I ordered it late in February and due to a mishap got what I ordered yesterday.

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Ignore that sleeping bag and how bad my photo taking skills are from my phone

As for reading my freakishly large amount of manga, consisting of over thirty volumes, well, there is a reason why I have manga reviews planned for every few months and not monthly. Since buying them is a secret, well reading them is a secret as well. I am pretty much a Closet Otaku. All my manga is hidden in a special case under my bed tucked away. Days when it is just me is when I finally get the chance to read them, summer time this is not existent so I have to go months without reading. I always make sure that each semester I have one day off. One reason is because I do not want to go to school for a single class and waste gas, being able to read manga and watch anime on the big TV is just a bonus. Even then there has been times when it has almost been discovered, but that is a story for a different day.

There is probably a lot more that I could say here. My only problem is I have no idea what to say exactly. There is a lot to tell, but at the same time there is not much more.

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Again ignore my poor photo taking skills.

If you have trouble seeing, which I know you do, check out the collection page with the full list of all that manga here.


So, if you like what you read feel free to follow me. I am always taking feedback as well as ideas for future topics for anything found here on this blog. Feel free to follow me on Twitter or ask me something on ask.fm.

Until next time

-Joe

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