The Secret Santa Project has been an unexpected success each time we have run it with the number of participants doubling from 2009 to 2010. It helps bloggers spread the word about their favorite overlooked titles while broadening the horizons of all the participants. The thing is, every time the project is mentioned there is always one request we hear time and time again. People really want us to do a manga version as well. This call has not been ignored. It is just there are some logistical problem we that need to be overcome.
It might not be apparent but there were several problems with a Manga Secret Santa that do not come up with the anime version. The first being a maximum length of the series you could recommend. With the average anime series being 26 episodes or less it was easy to make that the upper bound. But there is no easy cap to use for manga. Also you can get a whole anime series for about 30 to 50 dollars with anime but even just 10 manga will cost you 100 bucks (not accounting for savvy shopping). Keeping this in mind, we came up with a plan.
Our solution was simple. Instead of trying to read an entire manga series, you would get three series you have never read before as part of the project and read the 1st book of all three series and then write-up at least one of them. It seemed like a good compromise. While you would not get the comprehensive look you would from the anime reviews, it would allow people to experiment a bit more with a reduced commitment required.
But another problem still loomed: how to get everyone to make a comprehensive list of what series they have already read. Every year when we do Anime Secret Santa we get several people whose lists of what anime they have watched is missing several vital titles they forgot. Invariably someone will then recommended them the title they forgot to list. Using My Anime List as an example, it has 322 pages of anime titles vs. 857 pages of manga titles (thanks to the inclusion of doujinshi). Even Anime Planet’s more streamlined list is still 150 pages of manga as compared to 105 of anime. Other book listing sites like Shelfari have inconsistencies in their manga collections such as missing author names or wrong numbers even in the same series.
Going along with this is the fact that most people are reading dozens of manga at one time. Unlike a lot of anime where you just watch through an entire series in a timely manner. But even if you are following a show weekly, it general doesn’t go over a dozen. But manga, we are constantly waiting for the next book in English to emerge. It can take years, even decades, for an entire series to see an English release so people have myriads of titles left only partially read. The chances of people handing in incomplete lists is so high that Narutaki weeps at the thought of having to coordinate such a project.
We don’t really have an answer to this problem therefore we have decided to try to crowdsource an answer. Is there a streamlined program that lets you record what manga you have read? It has to be able to make a simple but comprehensive list of titles. Does anyone even want to attempt to do such a thing with their manga reading now that we’ve explained the dilemma?