Read manga for free in Manila – and we’re not talking bootlegs

A couple of weeks ago, the Japan Foundation (Manila) announced that its library has recently acquired a collection of Japanese manga in English. They’ve had a sizeable selection of raw manga for ages but this is the first time (to my knowledge) that translated volumes will make an appearance on their shelves.

I haven’t had the chance to pop in for a look so I can’t say anything about the collection’s size and contents, but this may turn out to be a much-needed boon for manga enthusiasts in the Manila area. (EDIT: I paid them a visit; check the update below for details.) Given the state the global economy’s in these days, it could be hard for some to part with the cash needed for a fresh manga volume whenever new releases hit the bookshops. For those who can still afford to splurge but are unwilling to risk resources on a series that may turn out to be a dud, the library’s free-access collection creates a welcome opportunity to review prospective reads before investing.

The Japan Foundation (Manila) Library is located on the ground floor of the Pacific Star Building, Buendia corner Makati Avenue, Makati City. (It’s near the back entrance of the building, just behind the reception desk.) Members can borrow books – I’m not sure if this privilege extends to the manga collection, though – while non-members can read them on-site but can’t check them out. More details are available here.

UPDATE (16 April 2009): I visited the library earlier today and gave their English manga collection a once-over. Not very large, but respectable – over a dozen series including some big names like Naruto, Death Note, Case Closed, One Piece, Honey and Clover, Nodame Cantabile, Monster, etc. All of them bear “Room Use Only” tags so they can’t be borrowed for home reading, but that’s fine because the main reading area can seat a small crowd and there’s even a couch on a large tatami mat (shoes off!) to one side. I’ve already identified a few interesting titles and I plan to visit the place at least once a week to dip into those series.

One other thing: the library is hosting a course/seminar so their opening hours have been temporarily modified. Between 13 April and 13 May, the public can use the facilities from 1PM to 6PM on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays and from 10AM to 6PM (regular hours) on Tuesdays/Thursdays.

8 Responses

  1. Japan Foundation Library? Wow. I’m a filipino and I guess I would love to see this personally. XD

  2. Did you say FREE?
    Youll see me there soon. XD Well I hope I know how to get there. Its in Makati right? Then no problem.
    Im guessing that the mangas that can be read there is… lets say, not good or not popular. But whatever, its free.

  3. That’s nice. I hope they have good quality manga 🙂

  4. I’m always glad to hear about cool moves like this, though obviously it’s no help to me living in the US lol.

  5. Oh cool, I should make it a point to go there, maybe I can find ARIA or something really awesome.

  6. @kirapika: The library’s easy enough to find, so if you live nearby it’s probably worth a visit.

    @Kairu Ishimaru: It’s a small collection, but they’ve got a healthy mix of series – including popular titles like Naruto, One Piece, Death Note and others.

    @Kitsune: Mostly from big US publishers (like Viz), so I’m guessing the production quality’s okay. Can’t say anything about the translation quality – even big publishers are known to mess things up on that end from time to time.

    @21stcenturydigitalboy: Well, I’d say you have the overall advantage: bigger bookshops, low/zero postage costs (when ordering from online retailers), a complete selection (something we can only dream of). I’d fly over there right now for an insane shopping spree if it weren’t so outrageously expensive.

    @Zeroblade: I’ve just taken a peek – no ARIA or anything I’d call really awesome, but there’s some good stuff on those shelves. I’ve already started on a comedy series that my sister’s been bugging me to read for a long time.

  7. Hope to see this become a trend in many other countries. It’ll be brilliant.

  8. @Legionarion Conquistadorz: Indeed. The Japan Foundation has offices in scores of countries around the world, so if local public libraries are unwilling or unable to stock translated manga, libraries run/supported by the foundation should step in to fill the gap.

    (Provided they leave out unsuitable material, of course.)

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