In Diegospeak, “Kinokuniya” is a verb.

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The feeling one gets after spending way, way, way too much

It means “to drive oneself into penury”.

A glaring sign of how full my days have been recently: more than two weeks after returning home from Singapore, I have yet to finish emptying my luggage. But hobbies come first, so before I tip out the plundered hotel toiletries and souvenir air sickness bags, I’ll need to go through the spoils of my nighttime raids on the Lion City’s well-stocked asylum for committed bibliomaniacs.

Good bookshops are easy to find in my corner of the world, but when it comes to Japanese books in particular – raw manga, linguistic materials, artbooks, magazines and so forth – Kinokuniya’s main branch on Orchard Road is miles above anything we have back home. Needless to say, I made the most of my stay in Singapore by frequenting the country’s greatest national treasure as often as humanly possible. (The generous 20% anniversary discount they were offering on the National Day weekend added even more urgency to my mission.)

Here’s a quick rundown of what I burned my hard-earned cash on.

BOOKS AND MAGAZINES

The best things in life are expensive

The best things in life are expensive

An “official box” (= fanbook + box with special goodies) for the Hayate no Gotoku! anime series. I should wear the included Hakuou Academy official pin on my shirt collar one of these days – a form of undercover cosplay, if you will (since I don’t expect anyone at work to recognise the fictional school’s phoenix crest for what it is).

I already had the first volume of Tanigawa Nagaru’s Suzumiya Haruhi light novel series, but when I saw this new, slightly larger-format edition from Kadokawa’s Tsubasa Bunko imprint sitting on a shelf of books for younger readers, I cracked it open to see how it differed from the original release. The key difference: all of the kanji in this edition were given the full furigana treatment. I grabbed a copy for reading practice.

Two anime fanbooks, one for Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and the other for xxxHolic. Run-of-the-mill stuff – character profiles, production notes and so forth.

Magazines. Voice Newtype August 2009, featuring the Haruhi Five (with the K-ON! Gang, the Summer Wars Duo and other supporting roles thrown in for good measure). Haruhi also features in Newtype September 2009, which comes with a lavishly illustrated TYPE-MOON insert and a great poster of Nagato clad in summer kimono (from the Arc That Shall Not Be Named). Evangelion takes centre stage in Newtype August 2009, the bonus item for which is a small but quite well-made figure of someone called Mari Illustrious (these names… oh, the humanity…).

Yet another Nagato fanbook. That’s right, Diego has once again bitten the poisoned hook of the Dark Kadokawa Empire’s merchandising war machine. I have nothing to say in my defence, except that the caption on the cover strip (長門は、みんなの嫁です) isn’t far off the mark. Ouch.

Finally, we come to AVVENIRE – a collection of splendid full-colour art from all three seasons of the ARIA animated series. I could have gotten this in Japan for a much lower price and in better condition (together with the three hardbound artbooks for the ARIA manga series), but for some reason, I didn’t. Now that error has been rectified and my ARIA artbook collection is complete.

MANGA

Booksaretheonlythingsreallyworthbuying 002

Even the little ones can break the camel's back (or push your baggage over the cattle class weight limit)

Most of the series I’m currently following in English aren’t expected to see new releases until later this year, so Hayate 12 and Ouran 14 are the only translated manga in my haul.

The awkwardly-titled “Gorgeous Characters Guide” for the Hikaru no Go manga series. And yes, as a matter of fact there is a rather horrible pun in the book’s strange title (碁ジャス☆キャラクターズガイド, ahahaha) – but I’m prepared to overlook it for the wealth of content between the covers.

Volume 40.5 of TeniPuri. I’m not following this series at all, but I’ve been collecting the special character-guide volumes (identified by the 0.5 in their numbers) since I saw the anime a couple of years ago.

JAPANESE TEXTBOOKS

I completed my elementary Japanese studies using the Minna no Nihongo series, covering about three-fifths through regular classwork and the remainder through rapid self-study sessions (using materials borrowed from the Japan Foundation library) in preparation for JLPT 3. Wanting to thoroughly revise the parts I rushed through before last year’s exam without having to borrow and re-borrow the books every week, I picked up the main textbook and supplementary volume of MnN’s second half, as well as a kanji coursebook from the same series that should see me about halfway through the expected kanji content of JLPT 2.

After I’ve finished with MnN, I plan to take my Japanese a little further using the newly revised An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese. The material covered in the book probably won’t fit seamlessly into the MnN system – it is, after all, linked to the rival “Genki” series of introductory-level Japanese coursebooks – but I did examine the contents beforehand and it seems compatible enough for my purposes. (On top of that, the audio in the included CDs is the best I’ve heard in a Japanese language course: crisp, clear, very natural in pace and intonation.)

OTHERS

Japanese books (either raw or in translation) comprise just part of Kinokuniya’s massive 500,000-title collection. But with the shops back home not lagging too far behind in their English-language offerings, there was no real need to stock up on tomes that would probably be available on my native turf anyway. A novel about the Third Punic War, a couple of children’s books for my sister’s collection, some freebies – that’s about it for my non-Japanese pickings.

4 Responses

  1. I’m lucky that there’s a Kinokuniya close to where I live since that’s become the place where I go to pick up anime OP/ED singles given its convenience and its rough equivalence to online ordering in terms of pricing.

    Also glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed Avvenire. Unfortunately, I’ve arrived a bit late on the ARIA bandwagon to have been able to pick up the earlier books, so I’ll have to content myself with the Avvenire art book.

  2. Living near a Kino must be a real drain on your finances. Though I wouldn’t mind having one spring up in my own neighbourhood.

    The first 3 Aria artbooks are real gems; I heartily recommend ordering them if they’re no longer on stock. They were still easily available in Akihabara shops when I was in Japan a few months ago, so Kino should have no trouble getting copies for you.

  3. Ah, this is the reason why I’m somewhat thankful there’s no local Kino nearby, I can’t imagine how much broke I will be if that’s the case.

    I’m just happy there’s an HMV online shop I can order stuff from at an affordable price (comparable to Kino in SG, could even be cheaper, even with the shipping costs) — also a constant reminder that I have to keep a tight reign on my budget and buy only the stuff that I really really want, and not a spur of the moment thing.

  4. “Ah, this is the reason why I’m somewhat thankful there’s no local Kino nearby, I can’t imagine how much broke I will be if that’s the case.”

    True. If, by some miracle, a Kino were to spring up right next door, I’d be wallowing in debt all the way to my eyeballs.

    Shopping online also helps keep my spending down, and not just because of lower prices. I find it easier to resist spending on impulse when the object of my interest is just a jpeg on a retailer’s website. If, on the other hand, I have the merchandise physically present in front of me, the urge to buy can be stronger.

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