Sgirl’s Manga recommendations (post show notes, Episode 20)
In Episode 20, we were so into console trashing we never got to a discussion of manga recommendations. For my inaugural blog, I’ll hope you’ll indulge me a bit on a discussion of the manga I’m reading.
In college, the same evil friend who introduced me to anime (via “My Neighbor Totoro”) also convinced me to come with her on her trips to the comic book store near our school campus. Back in the 1990s, comic book stores weren’t always all that sure what to do with us nerd girls, so admittedly I think I was there for mostly moral support. However, there is really no way you can NOT look at comics in a shop, so eventually I ended up picking up the X-Men books and slowly started to acquire the compiled volumes of Ranma 1/2. Fast-forward a number of years, and I’m pretty much going to the comic shop mostly to pick up manga.
For those of you who don’t want to just read print but want access to legal translations of manga in its weekly/monthly serial format (pre-compilation) you have at least a few options to consider. Shueisha has converted its famous Jump magazine to “Shonen Jump” abroad. YenPress (owned by Hachette) published Yenplus! which features manga, Korean manhwa, and original English language works in its digital reader library. Both are releasing many of their overseas titles the same week as its foreign release.
So on to the recommendations!
This post, I’ll focus mostly on Shonen manga. The ideal audience for this genre would be young boys and teenage guys. Quite often the lead character or one of the lead characters is a young guy who is junior high to highschool aged. However there have been some ambiguous exceptions in terms of the age range but even then the scenarios generally remain youth friendly. In addition, although many titles carry a “shonen” label, they attract female readers. (The converse isn’t true for ‘Shoujo” titles which are targeted to young girls or young women.)
Both Yenplus! and Weekly Shonen Jump have “shonen” titles in their magazine rosters.
For a time I was subscribed to both digital magazines, but I’m currently only subscribed to Shonen Jump. The titles I usually read include Bleach, Naruto (after a long hiatus), and the new title “One Punch Guy” which can only described as WTF DBZ in its premise.
For the graphic novel collectors – I actually only have two proper Shonen titles in the mix.
- Bakuman is notable because it’s a parody of the Jump magazine process and Shueisha itself. It follows two aspiring manga artists (“mangaka”) on their journey to create the number one title. Art is done by the fantastic artist responsible for “Death Note” which is far darker, twisted, and a modern classic. It is an “atypical battle manga/slice of life manga” in which your opponents are other creators. One thing that’s nice about the manga is that it has a distinct end, although admittedly I felt it was a bit abrupt in that there was plenty more that could be done, but I think the creative team likely wanted to move on.
- Blue Exorcist is a fairly recent addition to the “Shonen Jump” magazine. It has only 9 volumes in print here in the U.S. It is still serializing in Japan as a monthly title. At its core it features twin brothers born from a demon father and human mother. The manga is about the older brother who, in spite of his clear demon powers, wants to be an exorcist. It’s characterized by somewhat cuter designs, a creative supporting cast that has familiar stereotypes found in manga, all bound in a school setting. It is also available as an anime in the U.S. which (anecdotally I should tell you) has fantastic production values. (I forgot to include it on my list of recommendations in the podcast!) It’s definitely a good title to share with others. (Yes, it is fairly family safe but some episodes are a bit scary for little kids. ) While the anime has finished its run (for now), a movie should be making its way here in the next year.
For those who want something absolutely family safe and funny, I recommend picking up Yotsuba&! by YenPress . This title is probably familiar to any 4chan alumni as the title character, Yotsuba, was a semi-official mascot of the channel. In spite of the chaos associated with 4Chan, Yotsuba&! is a really sweet and charming title. And some of the characters in the manga (like Danbo/Danboard) have become common memes (see box-guy in the accompany blog image). The basic premise of this manga is that a little five year old girl and her adopted dad move to a new neighborhood. Everything she discovers becomes fodder for the manga itself and her reactions and interactions with the world can drive entire storylines. It’s endlessly charming and probably best for those who thought Totoro was the best FILM EVER. (In other words, it’s excellent for little kids, their parents, or other people whose inner kids just didn’t get the memo about growing up. It’s a rare manga you can share with anyone and not be labeled as totally weird.)