August 02, 2005

First Comic Rental Experience

If you live outside of Asia, then you probably are not familiar with comic rental shops. These shops, which can be found all over Taiwan, and are especially concentrated near college campuses, rent out comics, books, and magazines. At many of these stores, customers can pay to have unlimited reading access until one leaves the store, for only about $60 NT. Renting books out, on the other hand, costs about 10% of the cover price. New comics go for about $85 NT, so renting comics is a fairly economical form of entertainment. Comic books are mostly translations of Japanese comics. There are also some comics from Hong Kong and presumably a few from Taiwan. There are a few martial arts novels for rent. You can also rent romance novels. Like the comics, there is also a sizeable collection of romance novels for the "mature" reader. How mature are the patrons of comic shops? On my first trip to a comic shop on Saturday, I guessed that most patrons were high school and college age, but I saw one man in his thirties and another in his forties.

I am not a big fan of comic books, but when I see so many people who enjoy them, I feel like I am missing out. If the comics are not particularly interesting, I can at least comfort myself that they are improving my colloquial Chinese. So, for my first trip I checked out two comics. (I've forgotten the names already. I'll try to update this if I remember). The artwork in both comics was nice. One story was pleasant. (I can't use the word "interesting" because nothing really seemed to happen.) The other comic didn't really have a story. I was glad to be finished reading it. As for improving my Chinese, it is possible, but not what I was expecting. In the first book, I did not come across any new words, and in the second book only a couple.

Will I rent again? Probably, but I am not in a hurry. I will probably rent the Chibi Maruko-chan (櫻桃小丸子) comics some time in the future. I took a look at those and was amused by the difference in the artwork between the first and last volumes. The artwork in the last volume at the shop (volume 15) looked like the television cartoon. The characters in the first volume looked as if they were drawn by a child, or perhaps a terribly inept forger.


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