Sometimes I just have to shake my head at some of the reviews I see for Heavenly Bride over at Amazon. (I long ago stopped checking Barnes and Noble, being as those reviews are usually half-cocked and hateful.) Sometimes it is very clear to me the person who got the book was under-aged, which leaves me to wonder if Amazon has an age filter in place at all.
There are a lot of good reviews, of course. I won’t say that my writing rivals the greatest of the greats, but the story – which was mediocre at best – has improved since I rewrote the beginning. With it the reviews improved, and that makes me happy enough. Although I admit I’d be happier if it were rivaling the best of the best and leaving me with the ability to do nothing but work on my own stuff and only my own stuff.
There has been, on the other hand, an increase in a certain kind of negative review. Three of them, to be exact. They read:
- 1. It (Chapter One) was too short.
- 2. Needs more color.
- 3. (my favorite) “If I had known this was a manga story by an American, I would not have gotten it.”
These three negative comments blow my mind.
It’s chapter one. It’s not the whole book. The chapter even tells you it’s not the whole book, that it’s just the beginning. The title alone should tell you it’s only the first chapter. How on Earth can anyone miss that this is only the first chapter, and as a result it’s probably not going to be a long book?? It’s the first chapter! One. Chapter. A single comic volume, as per American tradition.
Which brings me to complaint #3: I’m not Japanese.
Somehow in the manga reading world, readers have come to believe that the only people who know how to write a good story are Japanese. Something about that island imbues them with magical writing powers, so that anything they put to paper will instantly entertain. Nothing by any other nationality is even remotely good. Conclusion: that is why unhappy readers didn’t like Heavenly Bride. My eyes aren’t slanted! Of course. It has nothing to do with the more likely fact that the story simply wasn’t their cup of tea at all. (rolling almond eyes)
It makes me think of someone that stayed with us a while. She was from Tokyo. And. She was a bigot. And I don’t mean just against Americans. She hated FAT Americans, to the point she wouldn’t even share the same air with us if she could help it. She wouldn’t even eat the food I cooked. Not to mention she threw away my grandmother’s silverware bit by bit because she was sneaking food into her room and using my forks to eat it.
Actions speak louder than words, right? The best example of her attitude came in the form of my manga collection. There’s this adorable story called Hollow Fields. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I happened across it in Barnes and Noble, picked it up, and went crazy collecting it. I loved it. I never stopped to look where the author came from because I just loved the story. I didn’t find out the author wasn’t Japanese until later.
My guest read all of my manga but Hollow Fields. She picked it up one day, going to give it a try. I made the mistake of telling her, “The author is from England or some place like that.” She immediately put the book back down and never gave it another glance. And thus, she missed out on a wonderful story.
Fact is, with Hollow Fields, you wouldn’t know it wasn’t made in Japan. It’s very very good, and the style is very true. It’s even toned and in black and white. Not at all like my style, of course. Nevermind I’ve been drawing how I draw since before manga was a hit in this country. In fact I was born BEFORE manga was a hit in this country, which in my mind gives me a bigger right to draw how I draw than most whippersnappers think. I’m not a manga artist. I’m an Amer-manga artist, and it is my hope someday folks will understand that there’s no stopping cultural exchange.
But this brings me to the second complaint: more color.
I should like folks to get in touch with Takahashi and demand she redo Inuyasha in full color. Or any of the other manga she has produced, as a matter of fact. While they’re at it, they need to get in touch with some of the noir comic greats and make the same demand. How about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? That would be amusing.
Heavenly Bride has the color it has for a reason. I’m not trying to save on production costs. I’m putting a subtle statement in there. There are readers who have figured this out already. I notice they’re all over the age of 15.
Still, it’s funny to me when someone comes along and demands HB be in full color as if that somehow would make my writing somehow better. Maybe it would make people mistake it as from Japan or something.
No I’m not irritated. I truly am amused. I can’t cater to these sort of complaints. They’re not real complaints, as far as I’m concerned, although you have to admit “too short” can be taken as a compliment. If nothing else it shows that people are going to whine about anything, hate you no matter what you do, and are shoddy readers even when they pay to do it.
However. With all of this lined up, I have to wonder. If George Takei were to produce a manga, give out chapters one and two for free the way I do, and offer it only in black and white… would he get the same sort of complaints? Or would his Japanese heritage block opinion sensors and force people to only type how wonderful the book was – even if they hated it?
That would be even more amusing.