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Many of my favorites might not be published within the year of 2010, but have either ended or is continuing through 2010.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.
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.
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!
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.