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The Best Manga You're Not Reading 7 years 4 months ago #8907

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Here is a compilation of manga favorites from MangaCritic, Earlyworld, and Robot6. The list was made after they were posed the question: What manga titles have libraries overlooked?

THE FOUR IMMIGRANTS MANGA: A JAPANESE EXPERIENCE IN SAN FRANCISCO, 1904 – 1924
Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama • Stone Bridge Press • 1 volume

In 1904, aspiring artist Henry Kiyama sailed from Japan to the United States in search of economic opportunity. After living in San Francisco for nearly twenty years, Kiyama documented his experiences in the form of 52 short comics. His memoir — one of the very first examples of a graphic novel — examines the racism and economic hardships that he and his friends encountered on a daily basis. Kiyama also addresses major events of the day, critiquing several Congressional acts designed to curtail Asian immigration, and remembering what it was like to live through the Great Earthquake of 1906, to attend the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915, and to survive the flu pandemic of 1918.

What makes these autobiographical comics truly extraordinary, however, was that they were originally published in 1931 in a bilingual edition right here in America. As Frederik Schodt notes in the foreword to the 1999 edition, Kiyama’s work was aimed at other first-generation immigrants who, like him, were caught between two worlds, trying to make sense of their place in both. The visual style and subject matter may not strike contemporary readers as manga-esque (Schodt notes the influence of American cartoonist George McManus on Kiyama), but the intimate quality of the stories will leave as lasting an impression as graphic memoirs such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.

PARASYTE
Hitoshi Iwaaki • Del Rey • 8 volumes, complete

Imagine, if you can, a manga that combined elements of My Left Foot, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Defiant Ones with the witty banter of a good buddy cop picture, and you have some idea of what Hitoshi Iwaaki’s Parasyte is all about. The story focuses on Shin, a high school student who wakes up one night to find a worm-like alien tunneling up his right arm towards his brain. In a moment of panic, Shin applies a tourniquet, arresting the creature’s progress but creating a brand-new problem in the process: the parasite takes up residence in his right hand, manifesting itself as a snail-like entity with googly eyes, a mouth, and the ability to transform itself into an astonishing array of shapes. Recognizing that their bodies are becoming interdependent, Shin and Migi (as he decides to call the parasite) agree to an uneasy truce. It isn’t long before other aliens are alert to Shin and Migi’s presence, forcing Shin and Migi to flee when it becomes apparent that the other parasites won’t tolerate their symbiotic existence. Making Shin and Migi’s dilemma more acute: they can’t go to the human authorities, either, without risking imprisonment, quarantine, or worse.

Like a good B-movie, Parasyte uses elements of science fiction and horror to explore Big Questions about human nature while scaring the hell out of readers; the series is filled with nail-biting scenes of Shin and Migi trying to escape detection or fight other parasites. The violence is graphic but not sadistic; most of the action takes place between panels, with only the grisly aftermath represented in pictorial form. (Read: no torture scenes, no female characters being sexually assaulted before becoming an alien’s dinner.) The script is clever and funny, as Shin and Migi trade barbs with the antagonistic affection of Ernie and Bert, Oscar Madison and Felix Unger, or Detectives Mike Logan and Lenny Briscoe. Their relationship is one of Parasyte’s greatest strengths, adding an element of novelty to a familiar story while deftly critiquing the idea that human beings’ intellect and emotional attachments place them squarely atop the food chain.


SATSUMA GISHIDEN
Hiroshi Hirata • Dark Horse • 3 volumes, suspended

With its heady mix of social commentary, political intrigue, and battlefield action, Hiroshi Hirata’s Satsuma Gishiden reads like Kagemusha as told by Sam Peckinpah. Hirata dramatizes the plight of a powerful southern province that rebelled against the shogunate in the late eighteenth century (and would again, more famously, in the nineteenth). The story unfolds in a kaleidoscopic fashion, introducing us to the the sanpin and goshi, low-born samurai who eked out a living as farmers and laborers between military engagements; the daimyo, the leaders of Satsuma’s ruling Shimazu clan; and the administrators, spies, and chonin swept up in the violent conflict.

In the wrong hands, this material would be horribly dull; the initial showdown between Satsuma and shogunate stems from a public works project. (Makes you wonder: was Satsuma Gishiden the favorite manga of Robert Moses?) But Hirata successfully balances historical narrative and dramatic action. He explains the caste system and politics of the Edo period, the ritual of hiemontori, the concept of nise — even the type of water works found in eighteenth-century Japan — tossing in some jokey panels of winged ryo and money-grubbing donjon to illustrate the shogunate’s corruption. Some readers may find these passages didactic, but they provide an essential foundation for grasping nuances of plot and character. Lest the tone become too pedantic, Hirata liberally sprinkles the story with passages of bawdy humor and baroque violence. In one gruesomely funny scene, for example, a dying character uses his own broken rib to puncture an opponent’s skull. Top that, Mr. Peckinpah!

The chief attraction of Satsuma Gishiden, however, is its distinctive visuals. Hirata’s layouts evoke the films of mid-century masters such as Kurosawa, Kobayashi, and Ozu, blending cinematic realism with the rough-hewn aesthetic of woodblock prints. The characters, costumes, and horses are rendered in meticulous detail, yet the artwork is never static; through creative use of perspective, Hirata immerses the reader in vivid battle scenes, lively clan meetings, and ocean voyages. (Just a thought: Satsuma Gishiden would be awesome in 3-D. Maybe Dark Horse could repackage future editions with goggles to enhance the effect?) Recommended for samurai movie buffs, amateur Japanese historians, and readers who’ve exhausted the Kazuo Koike canon.


TOWN OF EVENING CALM, COUNTRY OF CHERRY BLOSSOMS
Fumiyo Kouno • Last Gasp • 1 volume

If Barefoot Gen shows readers what it was like to live through the Hiroshima bombing and its horrific aftermath, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms shows readers what it was like to live with the memories of that day ten, twenty, and forty years later. Fumiyo Kouno’s book is divided into two stories. The first, “Town of Evening Calm,” is set in 1955, and focuses on one young woman’s attempt to preserve the remnants of her family, while the second, “Country of Cherry Blossoms,” is set in the 1990s, and focuses on the strained relationship between a survivor and his adult daughter. Both stories are simply but beautifully illustrated, avoiding the kind of visual tropes (big eyes, tiny noses, super-cute deformations) that many Western readers find jarring when reading Serious Manga.

In the few panels alluding to the actual events of August 6, 1945, Kouno’s art becomes more primitive and stylized, suggesting the horrific effects of the blast by depicting the victims as stick figures with swollen faces. The child-like simplicity and directness of these images are startling yet effective, a powerful representation of the radiation’s devastating ability to rob its victims of their identities by destroying their hair, hands, and faces. These scenes are notable as well for the skillful way in which present and past co-exist within the same panels; we see the landscape as the survivors do, alive with vivid memories of the blast. None of these images are graphic, though they are an unsettling reminder of the characters’ deep emotional scars.

The book’s strong anti-war message is balanced by the story’s emphasis on quiet, everyday moments, preventing Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms from succumbing to didacticism or sensationalism. Though Kouno did not grow up in Hiroshima, her meticulous research and careful reading of survivor memoirs lends her work a kind of emotional authenticity that a more dramatic story might have lacked. The result is a moving work that challenges readers to imagine how they might rebuild their lives in the aftermath of incomprehensible tragedy.


PHOENIX: CIVIL WAR
Osamu Tezuka • VIZ • 2 volumes

A quick glance through Phoenix: Civil War might not suggest that this is the stuff of high art. The characters bear an uncanny resemblance to the denizens of Popeye and jokey anachronisms abound. (Although the story ostensibly takes place in twelfth-century Japan, one character receives a telephone call and chows down on a bucket of KFC.) But flip to the back pages, where VIZ has included a brief statement from the manga-ka explaining the origins and meaning of Phoenix, and you’ll learn that Tezuka claimed Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird as the inspiration for Phoenix. Tezuka saw parallels between Stravinsky’s firebird and a similar creature from Japanese legend, Hou-ou. The phoenix, Tezuka decided, was a powerful symbol of “man’s attachment to life and the complications that arise from greed.” Using the phoenix as a touchstone, Tezuka constructed an elaborate, twelve-volume series exploring Japan’s historic past and possible future. He planned a final volume set in present-day Japan (“where past and future converge”), but passed away without completing his epic.

One of the best things about Phoenix is that readers can enjoy it as a series or a collection of stand-alone stories. Though I love Sun (the series’ epic, two-volume conclusion) and Karma (the fourth volume of the English edition), I think the two-volume Civil War (the seventh and eight volumes of the English edition) make the best introduction to Tezuka’s masterpiece. Civil War is set in Heian-era Kyoto, where several powerful families vie for control of the city. We experience the conflict through myriad perspectives: a lowly woodcutter and his fiancee, a ragtag band of samurai, an apolitical sage, and two powerful clan leaders, both of whom seek the phoenix in an effort to consolidate their political victories and perpetuate their bloodlines. The story may remind readers of The Hidden Fortress as it moves between epic battles and domestic drama, romance, and earthy comedy. While Tezuka isn’t above a little flatulence humor, he never condescends to his characters, using such lowbrow moments to demonstrate the common humanity of his entire cast. The character designs may be too cartoonish for some tastes, but Tezuka’s artwork is never short of spectacular; his imaginative layouts and flair for caricature are as distinctive as Igor Stravinsky’s brilliant orchestrations, churning rhythms, and pungent octatonic harmonies.


Age Called Blue
est em

Yaoi manga, or male/male romances written for a female audience, has the problem of containing a stereotypical triple threat: ridiculously pretty men, outrageous melodrama, and complete disregard for realism. Sometimes that’s what readers want, but if you want depth, honesty, and unvarnished romance, give est em’s work a try. Age Called Blue features brash young rock musicians trying to navigate professional opportunity and personal codependency, but this is no pop idol romance. It is about passion for music and for people, and est em gives readers an unflinching look at love between damaged, fragile people. It’s about figuring out how far is too far and why everyone’s limit is different and the betrayal you’ll forgive from a person you love. It’s about the moment when you have to let go of old fantasies and realize what you need is far simpler than what you dreamed.

est em has a strong sense of gesture and silence, and her rock ‘n’ roll men speak eloquently by trading guitar riffs as much as words. For libraries wondering about content, her works are adult but avoid full front nudity and explicit sex. est em is an intriguing, crossover creator. Her work is frequently published for gay men in Japan, and her stories strongly appeal to both men and women, gay and straight, in the US.


The Flower of Life
Fumi Yoshinaga

Fumi Yoshinaga is well known for her titles including Antique Bakery and recent historical drama Ooku, but this series has slipped under the radar. In this series, Yoshinaga brings fresh life to the many cliches of high school dramedy manga. Here are high schoolers aspiring to be manga artists, school festivals, holiday celebrations, awkward romantic confessions, and even a clandestine teacher/student romance. Instead of manipulating all of these elements for cheap thrills, however, Yoshinaga relates these slice-of-life episodes with her trademark blend of honesty, sympathy, and wry sense of humor. In her hands, a Christmas gathering becomes an ode to good company: the music may be terrible, the food lackluster, and the decorations cheap, but if you’ve got your friends, you’re golden. Each chapter neatly sidesteps cliches by returning again and again to the characters. Yoshinaga can’t resist adding in moments of goofy hilarity, but every joke is balanced by a quiet observation. Side note: this is also one of the only manga series I’ve ever read that features an overweight character who is not present simply to provide comic relief. The Flower of Life is about high school but appeals to a wide range of teens through to adults. (Owned by 86 libraries.)


Ristorante Paradiso
Natsume Ono

This title is one of the few recent manga out there aimed squarely at adult women, and more librarians (and foodies!) should be picking it up. As a girl Nicoletta was left in the care of grandparents by her flighty mother Olga for one logical but unfeeling reason: her mother has met a new man who says he’ll never want children. Her mother chooses a new husband over her inconvenient daughter. Now 21, Nicoletta takes off for Rome to confront her mother once and for all. Instead she’s pulled into Olga’s world: she gets an unexpected chance to rebuild her relationship with her mother and discovers a new home in her mother’s restaurant. Ristorante Paradiso, full of deliciously described cuisine and staffed entirely by older, suave gentlemen, as well as squabbles, unsolicited advice, romantic tension, and dashing mentors. Nicoletta struggles to master cooking, family, and matters of the heart, and Ono’s fluid, sketchy art suits this young woman’s coming of age tale perfectly. Ono’s work is especially appealing for readers who are seeking out the indie side of manga; her art is intentionally unpolished and wonderfully expressive. (Owned by 24 libraries.)


20th Century Boys
Naoki Urasawa

Monster and Pluto get a lot of press as the go-to titles for Naoki Urasawa, one of the best manga-ka working today writing for adults. I am an unabashed fan of Pluto (old-school sci-fi gets me every time) but 20th Century Boys is the lesser known of his works. 20th Century Boys spans twenty two volumes, with nine volumes currently out, making it the longest of his series to hit the States; perhaps libraries are reluctant to commit to the series. This is a grand shame. An ambitious epic, I’d compare it in scope and style to the TV show Lost. The story starts out as a glimpse into the lives of a group of middle school friends and shows the way their childhood dreams have alternately lingered or faded as adult reality has set in. In Urasawa’s clever hands, though, 20th Century Boys quickly morphs into a thriller with conspiracies, secret organizations, cults, terrorism, and insidious politics. Multiple timelines, memories, and points of view to create a growing sense of unease as more and more threats are revealed like the ticking of a hidden bomb. Wisely, Urasawa keeps returning to the initial theme of lost dreams, particularly looking at the power of young imaginations as a gift that needs to be reclaimed. Urasawa has a flair for investigatory dramas, and the puzzle pieces falling into place as 20th Century Boys unfold is utterly compelling. Urasawa is not full of violence or sex, elements which sometime feel like the hallmarks of men’s manga, but counts on sincere emotion, heroism among everyday people, and deft pacing to envelop the reader. (Owned by 118 libraries.)


Wild Adapter
Kazuya Minekura

My own mulligan was a hard choice — which rare and relatively unseen manga do I add to my list? I decided to go with the still (sadly) incomplete but evocative Wild Adapter from manga creator Kazuya Minekura. I almost decided to chime in with Akimi Yoshida’s Banana Fish (please do check out the ongoing roundtable discussions I’m a part of here for more information): after all, who doesn’t like epic crime drama with a strong dose of emotional intensity and frequent mexican standoffs? With six volumes currently available, however, Wild Adapter provides a lot of the same appeal for less money spent by an individual library. Minekura is famous for combining smokin’ hot bad boys and demon action into an irreverent retelling of the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West in the popular series Saiyuki and Saiyuki Reload. The dreamboat stars are a calculated draw for female readers while the vicious action and goofy humor call out to the guys. Wild Adapter balances older audience elements just as well. Minekura mixes together all of my favorite crime story flavors: yakuza (Japanese organized crime families), shadowy experiments, amnesia, badass fights, shifting loyalties, and bursts of bitter humor. A cryptic pair of leading men, who hide as many secrets from each other as from their myriad enemies, borrow attitude and grim determination from the best seinen (men’s) manga. The relationship between the two, however, full of slowly building tension that borders on but never explicitly becomes romantic, is pure josei (women’s manga) tradition. Her artwork delineates the action and mystery just as surely as she loads a touch or a glance with meaning. Minekura has been on hiatus in order to recover from illness, but fans both in Japan and in the US eagerly await news about when the series will restart. (Owned by 45 libraries.)


Cat Paradise
Yuji Iwahara

Cat Paradise, by Yuji Iwahara (the creator of Chikyu Misaki, arguably the greatest children's manga ever), is a pleasant combination of cuteness, fantasy, and action, all set at a boarding school where students are allowed to keep cats as pets. Nothing is ever as it seems, of course: A small group of the students and cats are warriors with special powers, and they are fighting on the side of the beautiful princess Kiri and her cat Shirayuki against an evil demon cat, Kaen, and his minions.

The heroine, Yumi, is your typical shoujo manga girl, nice but not very remarkable. She loves her cat Kansuke, whom she rescued from being crushed by a car, but she drives him crazy because she knits little outfits and makes him wear them. When they get their powers, it turns out that her power comes in the form of a ball of wool, and when she knits Kansuke an outfit, he transforms into a human and can go into battle.

The series combines an imaginative premise—what if you could talk to your pet?—with some serious fight sequences and the usual romantic complications. The plot moves along quickly, the characters are likeable, and Iwahara's art is cute without being cloying. It's a natural for shoujo manga fans, but it should be a fun read for others as well; the characters and situations are universal, and the art is clear and accessible even to readers who don't read a lot of manga.


ES: Eternal Sabbath

ES: Eternal Sabbath is a science fiction manga about an experiment in which a special gene is inserted into subjects to bring immortality. It also has a side effect, which is to allow them to enter people's minds, see their thoughts, and change their behavior.

In some ways this is a standard science fiction story, but the art in the early volumes is what really sets it apart. Rysosuke, the hero, experiences other people's minds as a separate physical space; as he stands and looks, these incredible surrealistic scenarios unfold that show him the person's memories and their hidden emotions. He can also induce hallucinations in others. This is the sort of thing that comics can depict very well, and creator Fumiyo Soryo uses the full power of the medium to draw the reader in. Even in more "normal" sequences, her clear, deadpan style gives the series a surrealistic feeling, making this manga a pleasantly creepy read.


Suppli

Suppli is a workplace comedy about a young woman dealing with the anxiety of nearing 30 with no marriage prospects and an all-consuming job. It's a fast-paced, funny romance that touches on a lot of universal themes—sex, love, balancing work and personal life, choosing between friends and lovers.

The series starts with 28-year-old Fuji breaking up with her boyfriend after a fight over how much time she spends at work. She responds by throwing herself into her job, and at the same time, a whole new world expands as she starts socializing with her co-workers. She quickly gets involved in a love triangle, attracting the attention of both the sweet underachiever who's more a friend than a lover and a dashing executive, above her on the corporate ladder, who swoops in for some intensely emotional scenes and then vanishes, partly because he's having an affair with a married woman. A host of other people either get involved or sit around voicing their opinions, and since they all work in Fuji's company, they are constantly bumping into one another.

Fuji is very serious about her job, but she must contend with a corporate culture that is very top-down, conformist, and sexist; every idea she comes up with ends up getting shot down in favor of something more "normal." Creator Mari Okazaki parodies the excesses of Japanese culture (there's one co-worker who never leaves his sleeping bag) but much of the humor and drama in this book is universal, making it a good choice for adult readers in search of a smart, witty read.


Twin Spica

Twin Spica is a teen-friendly story of a girl who wants to be an astronaut. The book follows the heroine, Asumi, through her training course and her career, but the first volume also fills in her backstory and shows us what a determined girl she is. Japan began its space program about 10 years before the series started, but it ended with a rocket exploding in mid-air and killing numerous bystanders. Asumi's mother was gravely wounded in the accident and spent several years in the hospital before she finally died; Asumi, who was a young child at the time, only saw her mother swathed in bandages and never saw her face. When her mother dies, Asumi refuses to go along with what the grownups want and instead finds her own way to come to terms with her mother's death. That determination sets her apart from the standard manga heroine and makes her interesting to follow. Her mentor is a lion-headed ghost, and he too has a poignant backstory. This manga is filled with quirky but human characters, and the art is detailed enough to create a whole world without being overwhelming. It's definitely a teen story but I think it has a lot to offer adults as well.


Me and the Devil Blues

Me and the Devil Blues is the story of bluesman Robert Johnson, who sells his soul to the devil at the crossroads at midnight in order to become the greatest musician who ever played the blues. The first volume plays this story more or less straight, with a supporting cast of real blues musicians, but the second volume brings in a baroque twist when Johnson meets up with bank robber Clyde Barrow and they hit the road together. The art is unusual and very effective in places (although a lot of the period work is obviously drawn from photos), and the two volumes make a good read. Unfortunately, it has been a while since volume 2 was released and it's not clear when, or if, volume 3 will be on the way. Even incomplete, though, this is a manga well worth having.


Junko Mizuno’s Cinderalla
Junko Mizuno

Zombies are hot, now, right? Junko Minzuno was way ahead of the zombie curve when she did this in 1995. But these are zombies like you’ve never seen them before. Mizuno’s trademark style is a unique blend of
cute, creepy, satiric, and sexy. Her art has been compared to “My Little Pony,” but it’s more psychedelic and way more original. Cinderalla is quite a bit like the classic fairytale of Cinderella,
but quite a bit different, also.

This Cinderalla works for her divorced father in his yakitori restaurant—yakitori are skewers of grilled chicken. She’s very happy until her beloved father dies—and comes back as a zombie! Okay, Cinderalla can live with that, even if he goes back to the cemetery during the day to sleep. But then he takes a zombie bride and brings her home with her two zombie daughters, who are now Cinderalla's stepsisters. The three of them give our girl a very hard time. Not only does Cinderalla have to do all the restaurant work and cook for the whole family but she has to make clothes for the vain, boy-crazy zombie stepsisters. (These zombies are cute, not ugly, and they’re always hungry.)

Then the word is out that the Prince is having a show. This prince is a zombie, and he’s a famous pop singer. (Prince—singer—get it?) So Cinderalla gets stars and hearts in her eyes and wants to go to his show. She manages to earn the money for a ticket and gets very prettily dressed up. But when she gets there as the first in line, she finds out that only zombies can get in. Cinderalla says, “I wish I were dead.” But how can she manage that without killing herself?

It turns out that our girl had rescued a fairy who was mistreated by a couple of neighborhood kids, and the fairy is all too happy to turn Cinderalla into a zombie for a night--especially after a few rounds of sake . Cinderalla is every bit as cute as a zombie as she was as a live person, so she goes to the show, spends the night with the Prince, and naturally he wants to marry her. But ooops! She has to run off at dawn, and she drops something. It’s NOT a slipper! She’s a zombie! Zombies have—shall we say—loosely attached body parts. Cinderalla drops an eyeball.

Kind of creepy, right? But that’s part of the charm of this manga. It’s not as gruesome as it sounds. It’s cute, funny, and a bit sexy since we see Cinderalla and other characters topless or nude in a cartoony way. Like when she spends the night with the Prince, they’re in bed, naked, in a big romantic embrace.

Of course at the end, the Prince does track Cinderalla down, they get married, and everybody—including the zombie stepsisters—lives happily ever after.


Lady Snowblood
Kazuo Koike & Kazuo Kamimura

This heroine is definitely NOT cute.

We first meet Yuki—Lady Snowblood—when she’s hired by a yakuza gangster to assassinate the head of a rival prostitution and gambling operation. She comes to the rival's gambling place when he’s present, and clumsily fakes a rigged toss of the dice. He and his men see through her obvious trick, and they strip her and then drag her out into the snow to rape and kill her. But with Houdini-like skill, she maneuvers out of her bonds, grabs her long knife, and finishes them all off, stark naked. Now THAT’s snowblood. Real snow, real blood.

Kazuo Koike is the writer from Lone Wolf and Cub, and this is similar but with a woman assassin. And it’s set 200 years later, in 1890s Meiji Japan. Little Yuki was born as a prisoner’s baby. The prisoner, her mother, is locked up with a life sentence for killing one of the four conspirators who raped her and murdered her husband and little boy—who would have been Yuki's brother. Three of the conspirators are left alive, and so Yuki’s mother seduced priests and prison guards just to conceive another child who would finish out her revenge.

That’s a nasty fate for a little kid. But as Yuki grows up, she trains hard and is more than up to the task. Her weapons include a sword hidden in her pretty parasol, a knife hidden in a hair ornament, finely honed pickpocket and martial arts skills, and her body. She’s drop dead gorgeous, and when she drops her clothes, men drop their guard real quick.

Like Ogami Itto in Lone Wolf and Cub, she takes gigs as a hit-woman while tracking down her mother’s enemies. So we have three intertwined tales: Yuki’s backstory about her upbringing and training, her hit-woman jobs, and her quest to revenge her mother.

But Yuki and her opponents aren’t cookie-cutter characters. As in Lone Wolf and Cub, everyone including the villains all have complex lives and motivations. And Yuki herself can feel pity for her victims and sometimes accommodates them in some way.

All throughout, there’s lots of athletic action, blood, and gritty sex—this is definitely for adults. The art is very attractive and cinematic, with excellent graphic storytelling.

It’s reported that Quentin Tarantino used Lady Snowblood as his inspiration for Kill Bill. If he had just adapted the Lady Snowblood story, I would have liked it a lot better!

So, what do you people think.. ?
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Re: The Best Manga You're Not Reading 7 years 4 months ago #8909

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I might have to check some of these out. Here's a fun bit of trivia: that Lady Snowblood manga is based on a movie from the 70's. The movie served as the inspiration for Kill Bill. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Snowblood_(film)

EDIT: Whoops, that's what I get for not reading that last line! (the Kill Bill reference was already in the post about Lady Snowblood)
Last Edit: 7 years 4 months ago by Astrophizz.
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Re:The Best Manga You're Not Reading 7 years 4 months ago #8959

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Nice list, I have to admit I've read most of this series. ;) I'd compile a different list myself, but I understand only mangas published in english made it here.


THE FOUR IMMIGRANTS MANGA - tip: you can read ~50 pages of this book via Google Books - here (btw, read left to right). I stumbled into this book accidentaly when exploring comics dealing with ethnics/immigrants issues, like Shaun Tan's "The Arrival". One book that truly deserves place in this ranking as I think it's unknown to the most readers. I can't say I recommend it to everyone, yet, the book is surprisingly fresh today (in terms of story and social commentary, not art). It's funny, has great historical value and is though provoking (for example: lots of things would be improper by today's standards of political correctness...).


PARASYTE - exciting s-f horror/mystery. And not blatantly mindless slasher - you'll ask yourself few questions about human nature while reading this, like, who's the real Parasite... And check other stories by this author, they're all good (especially Historie and Eureka)


SATSUMA GISHIDEN - quite stunning piece on Japanese history. Takes place at the beginning of the end of samurai era, when they struggled living life worse than peasants. realistic, gritty. Lot of violence, that isn't there just as fanservice in nowadays mangas but is essential to convey harsh reality of the times and people. Great art, original artist's calligraphy adds to the aesthetic value. Shame only 3 volumes are available in english, the rest you can read in french. ;]


TOWN OF EVENING CALM, COUNTRY OF CHERRY BLOSSOMS - strong take on Hiroshima a-bomb consequences. Touching. Shows nature of Japanese people very well. I liked it more than Barefoot Gen.


PHOENIX: CIVIL WAR - read all 12 volumes. It's done by a legend. Whatever topic Tezuka touches it's instant gold. I can't praise him enough. And I'm surprised/saddened how little known his work is among younger manga fans.


Age Called Blue - I'm not particular yaoi fan/enemy, yet on this one I have to disagree. Although it's not that boring as usual yaoi stuff, it still offers to little to enjoy. It has actual plot, sadly not too engaging. Life dilemmas of rock musician? I found it not that interesting. Truth to be told - psychological portrait seems realistic. But that doesn't stop it from being boring plot-wise. I liked two short stories at the end better than the main story. Oh, be warned - there are like three gay sex scenes, not too graphic.


The Flower of Life - warm high school slice of life, no superficial drama, no immature teen love, likable characters. Positive, refreshing. And yes, Oooku by the same author is also good.


Ristorante Paradiso - haven't read, but enjoyed anime a lot.


20th Century Boys - and everything else by Naoki Urasawa (Monster, Pluto) is a must read. One in a kind mystery-thriller series. Maybe even too much of a mystery (I'm joking). I've followed the story passionately to the end and enjoyed the ride. BTW, manga was adapted into movie trilogy recently.


Wild Adapter - I haven't read before but seeing it on this list I picked it up and struggled through first volume. I'm somewhat disappointed with it. Dialogs are out of place, disconnected from the story, random. Story could develop into something interesting but that hasn't happened in vol. 1. Main lead has some potential. Nice drawings for a shounen ai. 40% chances I'll continue reading and finish it. (Oh, as ~600 quoted someone in description - I agree - Banana Fish is much much better)


Cat Paradise - I'm way past shounen age and even when I was close to the demographic I haven't been reading much shounens. I tried first volume of this series and I have to say it's very generic and typical shounen. Nothing extraordinary or especially interesting. Typical plot, dull characters, average art. And what's most important in shounen - fights are disappointing. The only somewhat unusual thing - the cats. Yep, for cat-lovers - obligatory position. For the rest - if you like shounens you'll probably enjoy this too.


ES: Eternal Sabbath - I have to admit I'm a fan of this type of stories. Bit of mystery, bit of supernatural elements, some psychological dwells on humans. Intriguing plot. Imaginative art.


Suppli - haven't read. Looks like I'll give it a try.


Twin Spica - premise doesn't seems that interesting - young girl dreams to be an astronaut. But it happens to be very heartening story. Quite dramatic events make you attached to the lead character quite fast. I liked it a lot.


Me and the Devil Blues - a must read. Superior in the story and art. Really, not just for music lovers. Robert Johnson - youtube him. ;]


Junko Mizuno’s Cinderalla - goes to my wish list. ;]


Lady Snowblood - I've watched film quite few years ago and enjoyed it a lot. Didn't know it was based on manga until I've read Samurai Executioner / Lone Wolf by the same author and checked out his other work - what a nice surprise. Basically - sex, violence, sexy violence, violent sex, etc. in almost unbearably addicting doses.
Last Edit: 7 years 4 months ago by quidam.
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Re:The Best Manga You're Not Reading 7 years 4 months ago #8961

  • 600WPMPO
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I am really impressed by you quidam :)

Simply great analysis there..

Is there anything you haven't read ? :cheer:
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Re:The Best Manga You're Not Reading 7 years 4 months ago #8962

  • quidam
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Is there anything you haven't read ?
There's plenty. Around 200 titles I know I want to read. But that's just tip of the iceberg. What about things I don't know of and I would potentially like? I discover something new everyday. My whole lifespan won't be enough to read all I would enjoy. I took some courses at speed reading while ago. That trick helps a lot. ;)
There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know.
That's actually adequate words here (when we put aside the person who said this and the context he meant).
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Re:The Best Manga You're Not Reading 7 years 2 months ago #9599

  • Dfinni
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Check this out its a great series www.tokyopop.com/product/1226/Remote/1
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