The Lovely Complex manga is better than the anime. The only points where it isn't are things I love. Example: in the anime, when the gang meets up for hatsumoude (New Year's Day shrine visit) and Risa sees Otani, the director handled it in a hilarious fashion. Risa greets Otani; the view pans left to show Otani, who greets her in return; and there's this explosion of white feathers from the right side of the screen. It's hilarious; but you can't possibly do that in manga.
The scene in the restaurant where Nobu-chan tells Risa, "Show him your breasts!" (she is speaking metaphorically, not literally) looks a lot like the hilarious cut from the first OP:
...except that Nobu-chan is not actually hefting her own breasts. She does have that same expression on her face, though, and the rest of the scene looks just like that.
Volume 6 of the LC manga has gotten us to the "Maity" story arc. True to form, Viz screwed it up. They translate his nickname as "Mighty", which--of course--totally ruins the cheer Risa comes up with. ("M! A! I! T! Y! LOVE! MAITY!")
There are no less than 17 volumes of this; no clue if there are more than that. Volume 6 has gotten us comfortably about halfway through the anime series, though. The anime cut some things out of the story, but mostly it was little stuff, not big stuff.
...so for sure I'll be getting a lot more of the LC manga. Dang.
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And once I'd finished LC, of course I picked up The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya and read the entire goddamned book at one sitting. (Well...in my defense, they are called light novels, and for a reason....)
It was the best story in the series yet. It's really good. It's another time-travel story, one that builds on the events of "Bamboo Rhapsody" while also telling an entirely new story.
Reading the story, there was a moment when I exploded, "Shit!" because I read something that invalidated something in my fanfic. Heh. Fortunately, it was a pretty minor thing and fixing it won't be much trouble; I won't have to re-plot anything.
To me, that confirms that my fanfic adheres pretty closely to the canon for the series--the thing I got wrong was something that had not been addressed until this book; I made a guess about a binary situation and guessed wrong. Nothing else that I pulled out of my ideas about the Haruhi universe was ruined by the new (to me) story, so that's a "win" IMHO.
So I've finally gotten to read the entire story of Disappearance of... and now I can't wait to see the movie, because I think it's going to be good.
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Incidentally, reading the L-C manga makes me feel like a bloody amateur.
Okay, I am an amateur. An amateur who can boast of taking exactly one art class in his life. Whereas the artist behind L-C, Aya Nakahara, is not only a real professional manga artist, but an award-winning professional manga artist with several successful series behind her and whose work is animated to boot. Okay, her manga is going to be better than mine is.
In fact, "better" doesn't cover it. Okay, if the surface of the sun represents zero and my level of ability is somewhere near the orbit of Venus, any pro manga artist is somewhere around Neptune, and someone in Nakahara's class is in the freakin' Oort Cloud. You can't measure "better" on that scale because my level of ability is too close to "zero".
Yes, I can draw images that look like things. Yes, I can even make them tell a story. No, I'm not even remotely close to professional. I could be; without being too self-aggrandizing I am confident I have the talent; I already know how to tell stories and all of the problems with my artwork are technical in nature, due only to lack of training. It would take several years of art school to manage, but I could be a professional comic artist.
...and do what, exactly, with it?
The American comics industry works nothing like the one in Japan. (No way could I get in there, not without spending years learning to speak, read, and write Japanese with perfect fluency. Ain't gonna happen.) For one thing, the American comic industry is much more of a niche market than that of Japan; for another, it's pretty much dominated by the two names which are synonymous with comics in the US: DC and Marvel. There are smaller publishing houses but they work exactly the same way the biggies do.
Otherwise, you're doing four-panel strips for the newspaper. You can tell stories that way, but there is still the enormous obstacle to surmount: space on the funny pages is limited, and only the most popular strips even get tried. The sad truth is that for every success story there are hundreds--thousands--of rejects or failures, and the odds do not favor someone who wants to tell a dramatic story about a girl on the verge of adulthood who has to pull up her roots and move to the other end of nowhere and rebuild her entire life.
Regardless of format, there is simply no market for the kind of stories I want to draw. Not in Japan (where I'd have to have someone translate the work into Japanese, even assuming anyone there liked the artwork) and not in the US, where such comics occupy a microscopic crevice of a niche market. I'd be a fool to try to make a career of it.
So I have to accept that my manga is always going to be--to put it charitably--less than professional. For the most part, I'm fine with that; I draw my manga for me, anyway, not for anyone else. It bothers me a bit that my pages all have about the same format, but then I think, "WTF, I like the way this flows," and it gives me plenty of room to draw what I want to draw.
Still, reading something like L-C rubs my nose in just how little I actually know about drawing manga. I suppose I should learn from the example; but I don't want to be copying anyone's style, either. So, what the hell.
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Argh, when I'm tired, I get all philosophical and crap. I'm going to bed.