Rounding out the year with manga..my picks for 2010.

This was my window at one point...

In terms of American manga publishing, it is consistently playing the catch up game with translating/publishing either Japanese or Korean graphic novels that would satisfy readers. Though there are the OEL, which does have fans as well, my strong preference is for Japanese manga. Now 2010, has been an year of publishers closing shop left and right, as well as news of publishers coming into the scene as well, or of new publishing initiatives.. still books must be published, here is my list of what made my top readings this year.

Many of my favorites might not be published within the year of 2010, but have either ended or is continuing through 2010. This may or may not be similar to Manga Gift Guide I posted earlier. Some of the categories also might be slightly off.

Favorite manga choice from Manga Movable Feast or MMF
Mushishi
by Yuki Urushibara from Del Rey Publishing

Okay a bit of an explanation for this category. MMF is a blogger group of various manga readers/bloggers/critics, that decides on a manga title to review. A blog hosts the title, and bloggers in a week long period, posts blog posts about the title. Mushishi also ended this year with an omnibus, so it is an in depth look at humans living with spirits. There is an anime and a live action movie. So the most similarity I can think of if you need to question what this is like, then consider Mononoke Hime from Studio Ghibli.

Favorite shoujo:
The Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross by Arina Tanemura from Viz Media/Shojo Beat

Reading this cemented my preference for her as a shoujo artist. I love reading a variety of things, I am not so much of a shoujo fan, more am I for the art. So if there is a mangaka that got me to go nuts after her artbooks then yes, Tanemura did that for me. The Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross is a school romance that is filled with a lot of unexpected twists, romances, and even if I held off on reading the graphic novel for weeks at a time.

Notable shoujo mention:
A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio from Fantagraphics

Finding and reading this was such a good read, and a lot of other people would say it is so. There is fantastic imagery, and fantastic stories. Only one thing, Drunken Dream was only one book with short stories! As a translation and publishing choice, I commend Fantagraphics. For anyone who wants to read what is considered to be a classic gem of shojo then this is it.

Favorite josei: Bunny Drop by Yumi Unita from Yen Press

I really am in knots waiting to read this title. I see later covers in Japanese, so I know this is a story of growth, but if this isn’t Japanese slice of life then are there any other titles in English with this type of storyline? You see the development of Rin as she grows accustom to Daikichi. There is going to be a live action movie adaptation of this heartwarming manga.

Favorite yaoi: Blood Honey by Sakyou Yozakura from Blu Manga/Tokyopop

I actually didn’t read a lot of yaoi this year as I have last year, but one title that stood out for me was Blood Honey. This actually responded to my preference for hot bl-romance.. soooo if you are interested in this venue, check out a story of a vampire nurse, and his teacher lover.  This is a more tamer variation of Under Grand Hotel, but UGH is also a good hot read, but that might prove a bit hardcore for readers.

Favorite mystery/thriller: Future Diary by Sakae Esuno from Tokyopop

I also got the chance to read Deadman Wonderland, of which I know Kris spoke about, and I wrote a review on it. But Future Diary has more volumes out at this moment. Otherwise it would be Deadman  Wonderland hands down. I am waiting for the story to develop more in Deadman Wonderland. Still the similarity between the two titles makes Future Diary also a gripping read. With a cell phone having the knowledge of a possible future, also the consistent fear of backstabbing and betrayal, makes this an interesting read. Future Diary had made me gasp out loud more than once, and grip the pages of course.

Favorite shonen: I am a shonen fan, so I ended up reading and enjoying a lot of shonen targeted titles this year.. so my top three, and if I can even include Tegami Bachi or Bakuman, where is the end of this list? I really didn’t want to decide, so I figure I’ll throw in my top three of shonen reads this year.

Gintama by Hideaki Sorachi
Toriko by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
Rin-Ne by Rumiko Takahashi

These three titles are in English from Viz Media, so what else can I say. Gintama is a satirical comedy series that I really really enjoyed. Toriko has food, which I drool over even though the species are not real. Man the expressions, hunt and reactions of characters though.. >_< Rin-Ne, okay Rumiko Takehashi, I love her older titles, but when I saw this famous kick…. that cinched it. This is a pretty interesting ghost hunting meets slice of Takahashi Tokyo universe. Also the story has a cat, and yes, cat! I love cats!

Memories of Ranma 1/2...

Favorite adventure: Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima from Kodansha/DelRey

Similar to shonen, this is a category that is on its own. I wish I can include One Piece on this list, since I absolutely adore the series, but for personal reasons, I can’t include the manga. Fairy Tale then for me took the top, simply because I really enjoy the sequence that goes on in this story. There’s also a flying cat known as Happy in this title. This is a title I hope to read more of next year when Kodansha is slated to release two more volumes next year!

Favorite Osamu Tezuka title: MW from Vertical Press

Reading Tezuka is definitely a must for any manga readers, and with the way Vertical Press comes out with it. From Vertical, I have read five titles of Tezuka, if I just actively said Favorite Vertical Title… then how can I list a thought out choice? Vertical Press was one of the few publishers I actively went and purchased plenty of titles this year from.  If Umi no Triton, ever gets to be published in English, then that is my fondest dream. Still you got to enjoy the classic tales of this , and reading this dark gritty tale is just it. You can’t put it down. You end up hating the hero, but you also have to question society a cause for the creation of this anti-hero?

Favorite Vampire read:
The Record of a Fallen Vampire by Kyo Shirodaira from Viz Media

Reading the of end of this series made me cry. Sure, there are aliens, dhampires, humans. But what is the the ultimate responsibility and end to the emperor of the vampires? I have yet to read as much werewolves graphic novels as I have for vampires, I recommended something else for my gift manga list, but yes the torment, and angst of this vampire story knows no limit!

Favorite all age manga: Chi’s Sweet Home by Konami Kanata from Vertical Press

How many ways can I call it? Chi is a cute adventurous kitty who’s slice of life feline adventures makes me, a cat owner consistently go gooey and mushy over the entire series. There’s a an anime adaptation of this series.

12 Days, 12 Moments 2010: OreImo, the Show and the Phenomenon Reviewed

This final belated moment in the 12 Days series belongs to the entire show, Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (OreImo henceforth). It also doubles as my informal series review. It was both a show and a phenomenon, the most talked about series in the blogosphere and a bellwether of the state of anime in 2010.

Continue reading 12 Days, 12 Moments 2010: OreImo, the Show and the Phenomenon Reviewed

12 Days, 12 Moments 2010 DOUBLE FEATURE: Ginga! Bishounen! Tauburn!! and Poop Monsters

Two moments today, since I missed last night’s due to travel! Today we enter into the current, soon-departed season and talk about Takuto’s fabulous transformation sequence in Star Driver, and the defiantly crude humor of Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt.

Continue reading 12 Days, 12 Moments 2010 DOUBLE FEATURE: Ginga! Bishounen! Tauburn!! and Poop Monsters

Anime Angels; the series that will make you believe.

We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another. ~ Lucretius

Mankind has held it’s beliefs about winged anthropomorphic individuals since prior the common era. The beauty and transcendent nature of these creatures has caused human’s imaginations to soar and has provided a great deal of hope in troubled times.

Here are the animes involving winged beings, or else characters designated as “workers” or “messengers” of a higher power, which will hopefully inspire or at the very least entertain you;


Haibane Renmei
A young girl, Rakka, wakes up in a world surrounded by children and young adults with wings. She has no memory of her past life nor does anyone else, she only knows that she too has wings and that she is now part of a group in a world where much is a mystery. All of the Haibane were once human, though now they are all within a small town that they are not permitted to leave. The disappearance of Haibane seems baffling, though when Rakkas wings begin to turn black she worries she’ll never be able to lead the world she isn’t sure why she entered. The themes within this series allow a viewer to question and discover their own views on life and death. The aesthetic beauty of the series is enough reason alone to watch.


Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
An angel kicked out of heaven for a seemingly nefarious deed visits a high school gymnast, Maron, and grants her the ability to transform into her warrior alter ego. Supposedly, Maron is the reincarnation of Jeanne D’Arc (aka Joan of Arc to the western english speaking nations), a historical figure who was burned at the stake for her involvement in the Hundred Years War.
This may seem like the typical “high schoolstudent is given superpowers and must save someone from a demon or from being possessed by a demon” except the rich and mostly well-rounded characters and intense plot line allows for a views to keep following the series throughout it’s 44 episodes. This is an older series, though one worth revisiting as it’s influences can be seen in series such as Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji) and even xxxHolic.


Angel Beats! (Enjeru Bitsu!)
While only one character in this series ever becomes in possession of wings (Tenshi, of course) it’s a series of humans uniting to achieve the unbelievable. A lot of flack for this series is spewed around the internet. Do not be deterred, simply open your mind a bit and realize that the world within Angel Beats is NOT like the world known to the typical 3D mind. Similar themes to Haibane Renmei permeate Angel Beats! though there’s a lot more blood and gore. Otanashi awakes in a world he figures to be purgatory. An inbetween within the realm of a highschool, where everyone must overcome to move forward. Forgotten are Otanashi’s memories, unlike many others who have horror stories to tell, though his caring and considerate ways make him a person people wish to listen to. He joins with a team of misfits and joins the fight against the high school’s president who seems hellbent on forcing them to become “part of”.
There are a LOT of characters in this story, though only a handful of multi dimensional ones. The battles lead by the factions within the school, along with a superb soundtrack (and 2D appearance) by Girls Dead Monster make this one of the greatest anime releases involving servers of a higher power.


Pita Ten (Clinging Angel)
More popular for it’s manga version, Pita Ten is delightful in it’s innocent mischief. The anime series plays out as an almost slice-of-life style, only with really adorable angels. It’s just so sweet and cute! The simple life lessons taught in each episode entitled “how to…” make this a great anime for all ages.

There are many more worthy mentions for anime involving or solidly about angels, though these are some definite “must watch” series.

If you have a favorite that you think should have been on the list, or even characters who possess angelic qualities you enjoy then leave a comment below.

Secret Santa Survival Guide: Part Neko Otaku

mreowr!

It’s that time of year, and silly games abound. You reach into the hat and draw a name sealing your fate as someone’s Secret Santa. What… this person!!!! NOT THIS PERSON!!! Yes, this person. Often, they are wearing kitty ears. They like to meow and purr. Sometimes you wonder if they don’t secretly drink milk from a saucer off the floor. When a cat comes on the screen while watching anime, suddenly everything ceases to exist as their heart melts into a sweet and oh-so-fluffy oblivion.

You have to get a gift for a Neko Otaku.

You can always go for the basic Totoro Cat Bus plushie or even get them the ever-useful Hello Kitty toilet paper roll.

Or… you can really knock the adorable socks off your secret santa recipient.
You may have to buy them another pair to make up for it…

I recommend these;
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or these;
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There are a lot of types of cat-lovers out there, and I’ll try to find something decent for each of them (^-.-^)~

Best Anime involving Cats;

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A young man breaks a sacred cat statue and is indebted to the species until he’s made up for his wrong doing.

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Studio Ghibli’s enchanting tale of a young girl who saves the life of what turns out to be a very special someone in the Cat Kingdom. I’m not typically a fan of subbed anime, though Anne Hathaway and Tim Curry are some of my favorite native-english voices.

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Aria the Animation is one of my most beloved animes of all time. On the water logged planet of Aqua (used to be Mars) a young girl trains to become an undine (femme gondolier). The cat aspect comes into play when one looks to the presidents of each of the companies/schools. They all happen to be cats. As real to the “real life” form of cats as they come. It’s just so sweet. The anime is smooth and flows along emitting tranquility and peace. Even the “action sequences” feel as though the writers just woke up from a nap and really feel like writing an anime based on the feeling of just-waking. Give it a chance, if nothing else, it’s a great anime to fall asleep to. I’ve never been able to finish this series because of that! *blush*

Best Cat-Game Gifts to Give;

*Let’s Meow Meow!
A unique dating sim where some eyebrow-raising events may happen depending on the way it’s played. A young man is visited by a sort of cat-genie and he asks for (what else!) a cat girl. He’s given more than he’s bargained for and it’s up to the player to decide the outcome.

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Simply and quick puzzle games that if you score high enough on, you’ll be able to save the mews in Kitten Sanctuary. It’s silly, though for a cat lover it’s really cute. It’s also only $7, which makes it a cheap and easy gift.

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Petz Catz 2 for the Nintendo DS is somehow far superior than Petz Catz the original. Same concept, yet the game play and secret clubs add an aspect to this expanded-giga-pet cat game. Raise a kitten… definitely great for those who can’t have any pets where they live.

Best Cat Clothing I Could Find (:D)
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For those that want everything they wear directly related to anime, an alternative cat hat is below;
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Moving on from silly hats;
because masks are SO different (they are)… great for Naruto fans AND cat lovers; Anbu Mask

This here is the ULTIMATE cat’s pajamas;
Kigurumi Brand Cat Suit
I don’t have the cat suit, though I do have another pajama that kigurumi makes and it is VERY comfortable!

Unfortunately, I didn’t seem to realize the extent of cat material out there. I should have known! I am, myself, a friend of cats ^.^

Perhaps a part 2 to the Neko Otaku gift guide is in order.

Until then; enjoy this lovely youtube “ultimate catgirl gallery”.

Secret Santa Survival Guide: Satisfying fujoshi curiosity…

Okay just days before Christmas, what happens if you happen to pull from a secret Santa hat, someone who is either a female you know likes the bl fandoms, or if they are the boyfriend to a girl who is a bl-fangirl? Then what? So these are pretty nifty ideas for giving them as gifts.

For the boyfriend…..

My Girlfriend’s a Geek, Vol. 1 (My Girlfriend’s a Geek (manga)) ($9.34 new from Amazon.com) (Yen Press, 2010.)

Now there’s a Novel (image above is the cover) and a graphic novel version, but either one is fine….and dependent on reading taste.

Another choice would be…

Fujoshi Rumi Volume 1 ($10.19 new from Amazon.com) (Media Blasters, 2008.)

This is definitely about what it takes for a guy to develop a crush on a glasses wearing fujoshi. This is another take on My Girlfriend is a Geek, so as the other in a relationship, how do you handle your girlfriend’s interests?

Now for a females….

If they don’t have this in their collection, then it is not supporting the bl-industry..

Junjo Romantica Season 1 Dvd Collection ($44.99 from Amazon.com) (Right Stuf, 2010)

This is a nice straight off the bat identifiable bl title. It is not as ambiguous as Gravitation, but it has its moments.

For the cat boy lovers, and the really hot guys lovers.. ignore the shota aspects, but check out…also has fantastic music, and battle scenes.

Loveless Complete Slimpack ($14.99 from Amazon.com) (Anime Works, 2009.)

Now as a safe safe gift, you can always produce a gift certificate form Akadot Retail. I am very very sure that any bl-fan would totally love it, since Akadot has a large collection of yaoi books/media.

Secret Santa Survival Guide: Part Hikikomori

safety is an illusion

You draw a name from the hat, choosing your secret santa for the season.

Who IS this person you chose? You know nothing about them except that you don’t see them much. You think they have a job, working somewhere, doing something. You believe they exist, as occasionally you see a message posted under one of their million aliases on some forum in the vast interwebs.

You have to get a gift for the recluse: the hikikomori.
Don’t worry, I’m here to help you out!
Great gifts for the hikikomori;
Continue reading Secret Santa Survival Guide: Part Hikikomori

12 Days, 12 Moments 2010: Do the Censor! (Seikon no Qwasar 1)

This moment is more like a phenomenon, really. The example I’ll be using is taken from Seikon no Qwasar episode 1, but it now seems to happen across a number of anime series this past year. I mean, of course, an increasingly intrusive censorship in anime TV shows in order to sell DVDs that are either borderline or outright hentai.

Continue reading 12 Days, 12 Moments 2010: Do the Censor! (Seikon no Qwasar 1)

Secret Santa Survival Guide; Part Pedobear

You’re passed the hat full of all your anime club’s member’s names and you take a folded piece of paper out…

… darn it! You picked the pedobear of your crew. What in the world are you going to get them?

Here’s a guide to help you out;

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Boku no Pico… yes, yes. The ultimate “are you f’real?” pedobear fare. I haven’t seen it, and no one I know will admit they’ve watched it either. Leads me to believe this is undoubtedly the perfect anime for the Pedobear in your life.

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As the youngest member of the Azumanga Dioh! crew, she seems to be a fan favorite among many. Thank goodness she’s got friends to protect her, though if you feel up for it you can place her into the arms of the Pedobear. She won’t put up a fight.

Criminal Girls for the PSP Train your little girls to do bad things within settings such as a dungeon and when they disobey you, you get to punish them. This game also features interactive “rest” features. It’s really an adorable game, though I don’t think a Pedobear could ask for more.

Rilakkuma Room Shoes (Bear Slippers) Help them creep around more quietly by giving the soft house slippers in the shape of, what else: a bear.

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Sometimes, it’s good to know that little kids don’t like to be messed with. Remind the Pedobear of this with Gunslinger Girl which depicts young girls who were “saved” and trained by a government who brainwashes them along with handing them over to an officer in the force. Often the little girls become obsessed with the men. This is not the manga for the faint of heart, it gets quite gruesome and deranged at times.

Forget the hippo! What a geeky gal really wants this winter!

A lot of people seem to think I’m easy for shop for, and it’s true; you can give me a ball of tin foil and I’ll be entertained for hours. Think of all you can do with tin foil! You could make a hat… or a gravy boat… or even turn it into a super cool shirt. (Nipple covers, at least. Depends how large that ball of foil is.)

Well, now that I’m going to end up with 50 balls of tin foil in my stocking here’s a list for you original gents and gems who feel like giving someone (particularly someone spiffy and silly and spacey) something especially fantastic;

High School of the Dead (1) on DVD Blue Ray and High School of the Dead (2) on DVD Blue Ray
Don’t be fooled by the gratuitous panty shots, ladies really dig this series. I know, I am one. I’ve also seen some of the straightest women in the world turn a bit yuri watching HOTD. It’s the zombies. Apocalypse never gets old and watching zombie’s brains get bashed excites women. This can be considered a gift for the receiver AND the giver.

Ready for a play date?
Saeko Busujima 1/8 Cast off Figurine
I told you, HOTD does odd things to ladies. I’d probably play with Saeko every day. Goodness, I’d post pics of her all the time too! Hah, she’d become the star of my posts. Admit it, you kinda wanna play with Saeko too!

Unfortunately, the main anime soundtrack I’d love to obtain is unavailable.
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In case it ever reappears on Amazon, I’ll keep that link there.
Angel Beats! is a terrific anime that follows Maeda’s obsession with winged creatures, themes of death and renewal, as well it contains a lot of bloodshed which for a Maeda creation may be untypical, though it’s well played here. The music is at times airy, and at times it plays into the heavy hearted anime so well that it’s the breaking point between “I’m too strong to cry” and “that’s so sad, wah wah wah.” I imagine put to the background of my or another’s life, it would add an intriguing beat. Definitely would love to have some of these gorgeous piano pieces playing in my headphones.

Kompeito This is my most recent addiction, and I have to admit my favorite thing for people to do is feed into my addictions! This candy is fairly inexpensive, yet so BRIGHT and SO SO COLORFUL!!!! It tastes like pure sugar and sweetness, though a bag lasts awhile and certainly makes an impression in a candy bowl. They occasionally stock these in a grocery store near me, and I get a bunch just to have around. As well, they are one of my favorite candies to send to friends around the globe. For someone not used to the Otaku culture, it’s only strange enough to be interesting though not overwhelming enough to turn a person away before they try it out.

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Hetalia is amazing in all forms. It’s a bit of history with enough caring male characters to be categorized as “BL” without being overtly yaoi-ish, and a fan base to make any con involving a Hetalia meet-up memorable. The fan fics are probably half the fun of this series, though even someone not into the subculture this series has created, if you know anyone into history they’ll get a kick out of this.

Samurai Sword Umbrella
It’s been raining for days and days in my hometown, so this super cool umbrella would be completely appropriate.

Due it being cold and gloomy, this next item may be the ultimate gift that I’ve never been given;
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Silly hats for the win.

If you know anyone like me, or know me, or just like to give gifts then check the items on the list out. It’s not too late for that perfect gift!