Well, I did do 10 Favorite Anime I’ve watched in 2012. It only makes sense that I do a manga version too. This is basically similar to the anime one I did, with no rankings because ultimately, these were the works that, more often than others, gave me way more energy and desire to check it out far often than any other work I’ve watched or read this year, and it just so happened they weren’t made in 2012. It doesn’t make sense to give them an order, because all of the manga I’ve listed I’ve enjoyed immensely, and I’m thinking you might enjoy it just as well. Some I really wanted to finish reading — stuff like Message To Adolf and Sakuran — I just didn’t find the time to read or finish it. Hopefully I’ll get a chance before the year is up, or sometime soon. But there were some pretty good manga that I enjoyed reading this year like…
I managed to somehow read this before the year 2012 was up. It was the best thing I ever did. Sweetpea named it one of Tezuka’s best, and there had been endless praise on MW, so I finally, after a good year and some months of stalling, I picked it up. Needless to say, I was shocked, stunned, and mesmerized. MW has a certain trait that made me turn page after page until I finally got to the “Ending”: human weakness. Sure, it’s exhibited well in a lot of manga, and Tezuka certainly has done this in some of his other works before. But the layers of human weakness shown in each and every character is magnified when it comes to a government coverup and a weapon lethal enough to destroy the whole world. And the way it was powerfully drawn and told forced me to read it again. Chances are, I’ll probably re-read it again in the near future.
Yeah, yeah, I know, the ending’s terribad, just ignore it if possible, blah, blah, blah. But I still have yet to actually read that whole volume or chapter yet since I’ve been following the Yen Press releases in America. With only four volumes to go, I’m almost there. But until then, it’s just hard to hate this manga. Comically drawn but wonderfully told, I can’t help but be impressed by the Bunny Drop manga. Yeah, the first half is loads better, especially since the chemistry between child Rin and Daikichi was excellent. But the second half so far has been pretty enjoyable and well told as well. Maybe it was because I expected Rin and friends to grow up, so that’s why I got acclimated to it more. Whatever the case, it’s been a great read from the start, and I had no choice but to list this as a favorite.
Attack On Titan
Attack on Titan is one of the worst drawn popular manga series I have ever read. Ok, ok, it’s mainly popular in Japan, I don’t know how popular it is here, but after finally having a copy in my hands, I can see why this is the case — a tale of human survival, of little hope, along with massive, almost invincible Titans, it’s been a while a shounen has come by with this type of tale, and for the most part, has executed it to a tee. Needless to say, Kodansha made the right decision to bring it over to the US, so that’s good for us, and good for me as I look forward to more installments.
I admit it: I did not buy as much Bakuman volumes as I had wanted to; in fact, I ended up buying Vol 12 just a week ago! And after reading said volume, I understood why I loved the series in 2012, which I finished reading online. Overall, some of the manga examples may border on the extreme, but for Mashiro and Takagi, learning a bit about the manga industry through their eyes and ultimately getting to the ending of what has been a long journey was pretty sweet. Sure, some would say it ended anticlimactically, but I would say, “Well, we knew what the goal was since the very first chapter. And they got it done. Where else were they supposed to go?” So once again, the Ohba-Obata team creates another good series that should stand the test of time.
I basically had to include this because in reading it in 2012, I enjoyed it like crazy. It’s a crazy combination of blending East and West culture, along with a tale of blatant assumptions and misunderstandings that actually hold some truth today. It probably does help that the mascot for this manga is an anime product in Japan (that’s a rejected version of Pikachu) that turned out to be a massive success in America, feeding poor Milton lies about how you’re supposed to act in Japan, but his experiences there ultimately allowed him to grow as a person. And kind of help him get laid. You’ll have to read this to understand!
In reading Takehiko Inoue’s REAL, I got a sense of how important character development is key in manga. Yeah, it always is a key when it comes to all works of fiction, but without characters who also happen to be hated by others, this manga that revolves around wheelchair basketball would not be as great as it is. The importance and trials that our three main characters (from left to right: Takahashi Hisanobu, Nomiya Tomomi, and Togawa Kiyoharu) go through are tough in itself, but they get little help from anyone else due to their destructive personalities. All three need to learn how to overcome that, and that, along with their stories, makes REAL a work you have to read.
7 Billion Needles
I can’t remember why I picked this up in 2012, but it may have just been a gamble on my part; whatever the case, I took a spin on Vol 1, and the first thing I could understand is that we had this annoying brat named Hikaru who’s fairly anti-social (I seem to like anti-social people) who just so happens to be hosting an Alien. The next thing I knew, I ended up purchasing the remaining three volumes. Short, to the point, but also fairly thought provoking, this is one manga that surprised me greatly, and if you decide to take a chance on it, I think you’d be surprised how much you’d like it too.
A Zoo In Winter
While Bakuman always had a sense of realism when it came to telling us how to break into the manga industry, A Zoo In Winter can somewhat be considered the book that is realistic when it comes to breaking into the manga industry. We follow the life of Hamaguchi, a young man who quit his job at a textile factory. Asked to become an assistant to a manga artist, he takes the job. Through this experience, there’s no outlandish scenario or drawings that are unrealistic: this is essentially human truth right here, as Hamaguchi goes through a number of changes that affect his life drastically. This is definitely a manga I knew I needed to highlight for this post.
A Bride’s Story
It’s a shame I’ve only been able to purchase two volumes of Kaoru Mori’s A Bride’s Story. Simply put, the stories are pretty basic and slice of life. You might like the characters, you might hate the characters. You may not even like the actual stories told (especially of our young couple early in the manga: Amir, who is 8 years older than the one she is slated to marry, Karluk) in the manga. But by god is this art amazing. This is basically art porn. Each and every single thing is drawn with such detail and care that I’m sure most artists would be jealous of Mori’s style. But her passion is seen all throughout her manga, and while slightly priced, this is a worthy pickup.
5 Centimeters Per Second
Finally, as great as all the manga I’ve read this year have been, I’d have to say this may have been the one that blew me away. It’s not exactly a complex story, nor it is all that original. This is merely a romance between two characters with unfortunate circumstances. But it is executed so well that it’s near impossible to not feel anything for every single important character in this manga (Takaki, Akari, Kanae, and Risa). I heard this was really good, but I’ve heard other things were really good but they didn’t blow me away like this one did. This is definitely one of the best manga I’ve read in 2012.
But man, who knows what 2013 will bring in terms of great manga? Next time, I’ll make an attempt to limit it to just 2013 entries; that would be fair, wouldn’t it not?