In Defense of Manga Aisle Lurkers


Wait a minute, I type in ‘male pole dancer’ on google image and get five results, but ‘manga nerd’ generates millions? Lame.

And I really needed a picture of a male pole dancer without his wang hanging out, too…

Anyway, I’m here to talk about the manga aisle lurker, whom many of us despise to a certain extent. However, one of the primary things one should consider as they regard the manga aisle lurker is age – anyone over the age of fourteen should not be a manga aisle lurker (MAL from here on out), end of discussion. And while the younger set shouldn’t be looked upon with smiles, they deserve our holding judgment until they grow up a bit.

But why the distinction? Easy – maturity level. While I will not stand here and claim that a fifteen year old is an entirely mature individual, I will say that a fifteen year old has the maturity necessary to understand why one should not be an MAL, for a fifteen year old should realize the basic morality behind the issue – namely that reading an entire manga, then placing it back on the shelf before moving on the the next is akin to reading scanlations of a licensed series, as in both instances he or she is essentially stealing. We need not rehash all the issues of trying to ensure more manga gets brought over through increasing revenue of companies, etc, so I’ll leave that as implicit in this argument. Thus, a fifteen year old’s basic maturity renders the practice of in-store reading impermissible (I would like to note that leafing through a volume is not included under this, as buying a book blindly is a bit silly).

Now, as for the younger set, the first issue at hand is that they tend to not have the maturity required to get that they shouldn’t just read a book and not pay for it (other than at a library). Its similar to the fact that very small children do not understand the concept of stealing – a kid will walk out of a grocery store with a candy bar that wasn’t paid for, because to them this isn’t immoral. Even after they come to see that they shouldn’t steal things, it is a matter of “If I take this without paying, my parents will spank me/yell at me.” not “I shouldn’t take this without paying because it’s wrong to steal.” Given that one does not remove a book from the store in the act of reading it in-store, this requires an extra level of reasoning not present in pre-adolescent children, or even some of those in the middle school/junior high age range.

Then we hit up against another issue – embarrassment, plain and simple. There are some titles which kids want to read, but are simply too mortified to bring up to the register, for they believe that the cashier will see their book choice and make a judgment – or, worse, mom or dad will see the book after the purchase and not approve of it. During early adolescence, the mindset is one wherein one believes that everyone else around them is paying strict attention to them, and making judgments accordingly – surely you can remember this yourself, even if you were usually part of the singled-out crowd. Thus, one wishes to avoid embarrassment, and so squeezes into a nook in the store, hands pressed against the covers of the book in question to block view of them, and then fails to actually purchase said book.

There’s also the issue of parents as mentioned before, which is both a matter of embarrassment and a matter of fear that the parent in question will force the kid to return the book if they judge it not appropriate. And this is a legitimate fear, given that many parents do police children’s book choices up to a certain age.

All of which brings us to the main issue at hand – ensuring that young MAL’s don’t remain as MAL’s past early adolescence. I would argue that this used to be easier a few years back, as even the kids then saw their older peers not indulging in such behavior. However, I feel as if this has become more complicated in the age of easy digital distribution – people a few years younger than me are used to getting their anime and manga for free with the click of a few buttons on their computer, setting them up to develop a sense of entitlement vis a vis manga (and anime, by extent). Which demands even more that the rest of us (e.g. the older crowd, which in this case translates roughly to anyone sixteen or older) lead by example – and also means that we can’t just sit around whining about the kids we trip over in the bookstores, especially when you consider that we ourselves probably did the same thing at that age (I sure as hell know I’m guilty of having been an MAL when I was a kid).

So, yes, the MAL’s are obnoxious, but ultimately the younger set deserves some tolerance; as for those sixteen year olds currently blocking your ability to get the latest copy of Hunter x Hunter? Move, fuckers!

This entry was posted in A Day Without Me, Editorials and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to In Defense of Manga Aisle Lurkers

  1. shirokiryuu says:

    I wouldn’t mind MALs if they didn’t freakin bend the covers of the manga all the time. Actually I’ve had that pet peeve especially when I was in middle school, the last copy of the manga that I’m paying with my own money and begged my mom to drive me here, has creases on the spine and cover that never stays flat. When I was middle schooler, I did have those “embarrassing” moments, but I usually saved it for the library manga collection. I sometimes take the chance to read manga I don’t expect to purchase, however, I at least will open it with care and put it back where I got it. In order.

  2. miz says:

    That is a true assessment.. Just wish that everything is shrink wrapped.. >_<

  3. Yamcha says:

    I was never a MAL and never could have been because manga only started to catch on when I was in my mid-late teens, but I still frown upon it at any age. Even a pre-teen should know that bookstore =/= library. Heck, even libraries carry a decent amount of manga these days.

    To your argument, there’s nothing to be embarassed about for the young kids reading manga if they’re reading *ahem* age appropriate material. Most shounen should get parent approval, but I’ll admit as a hypothetical 13 year old if my parents knew I wanted something like Strawberry Panic I would be embarrassed… But that’s not age appropriate is it?

    I concur with miz and say everything should be shrinkwrapped. It’s because of MALs mishandling of manga that I buy my manga online. Also because it’s cheaper and tax free.

  4. Baka-Raptor says:

    Five minutes after reading this post, all I could remember was male pole dancer.

  5. Pingback: Black Lagoon’s Barrage Artbook = Violent Love! « animemiz’s scribblings..

  6. Jelli says:

    This is a bunch of bullshit, and I will tell you why. Any bookstore, where there are places to sit, will have people sitting there reading whole novels until they close. Only when the store eventually closes will they even consider buying anything. Sometimes, even that is not enough to get them to get anything as some will just mark their spot in some way and put their book at the back of the shelves or hide it so that others may not find it. The only difference here is you can read a volume of manga comfortably while standing up.

Comments are closed.