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She has no, uh, “business” being on this cover–you’ll see what I mean!

Japanese people call their unique brand of comics “manga” and they love the hell out of them–I do too! Rumor has it that the recent move to infuse regular ol’ books in Japan with manga-esque appeal (and thus drive up sales) began with this cute little title–well, at least it’s cute with the doe-eyed girl on the front of it. As for what’s inside? Come on, don’t tell me you haven’t guessed yet! Hopefully this next pic will give you a clue.

Yoda and Princess Leia’s first meeting, perhaps?

Most of you probably can’t read the big yellow lettering, so no help there. Also, since your mind is probably still reeling from the sight of a young girl superimposed over the image of a wizened old guy, you may be in no shape to unravel the mystery. But as hard as it may be, focus on him; I guarantee that most if not all of you have seen him before, unless you’ve been living in a self-imposed media blackout. For which, of course, I wouldn’t blame you in the slightest. But onto our next trick…

…and, “Viola!” It’s none other than a comic-bookish, how-to version of the concepts taught to us by that great business guru and all-round thinker, Peter F. Drucker! In the manga version, I think the girl is actually the manager of a high school sports team who’s trying to learn management skills. As hard as it is to get your head around, it’s almost like SHE reads the book so we don’t have to, then lives out the management principles she learns. Even more difficult to grasp is that it’s not a “children’s digest”–this thing is for adults, baby. I should emphasize that the actual book, translated into Japanese, is right there waiting to be read. This manga is just another way to get at the material, possibly to reduce the amount of people who try to poke out their eyes while reading it.

The seven…samurai? No. Dwarves? Wrong again…I know! Seven High School Girls on the Beach! I’ve read that one!

Here’s another tome that was enormously popular in the West awhile back (I had a copy, so it must have been), but the only clues you get are the prominent “7” and possibly scant visual recognition of the professor-ish guy on the cover. Still distracted by the girl? The gentle waves a-plenty? Me, too. Well, look closely at this next one…

Under her guidance, learning how to be highly effective might be highly enjoyable

Well, I gave it away with my pithy caption, but if you can read English (pretty much a given), then you know the answer regardless. Just look past the Japanese characters a minute, Neo. You will know what the Matrix is!

If anything, I was highly bored with this cover

Well, if you call Stephen R. Covey’s, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” the answer to the mystery of the Matrix, that is. Admit it, you still have your copy somewhere! I will emphasize again that the above covers and pared-down contents were designed with big people in mind, not kiddies.

Comic-y but cool–they actually got the hat thing right, which rocks!

This Holmes title is pretty in pink–and still totally geared to the older set

The manga trend isn’t just for those business tomes that would otherwise gather dust on your coffee table–it has also made its way into literature that we tend to read for fun. This cool rendering features none other than Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson! No comic-book contents here, though. It’s just the regular old book, translated into Japanese. The point, I think, is to provide eye-candy for potential readers and fans of Holmes, of which there are many here. Personally, it works for me.

Like Harry Potter…only not

It’s not just Western lit, either. This is one cover in the “Biblia” series, a serialized Japanese mystery story that is huge in Japan right now. The cover may look like a comic, but I assure you it’s 100% pure Japanese kanji characters through and through. Wacky, no?

I’m sensing a trend here…but I’m not complaining!

And finally, the first cover in the “Kanteishi Q” novel series, the covers of which all feature women with weirdly powerful eyes and quasi-period clothing (oh, and high school uniforms) calling out and saying, “Buy us! BUY US!” If I could read Japanese just a tad better, I think I would! I guess that means that something about this new trend is working, don’t you think?

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