As the genre of manga becomes more widespread and more distributed, appealing to both hardcore fans and light readers alike, the market has become more saturated and full of more fantastic releases to read and look forward to. Because of this development in the manga industry, 2010 brought us some truly inspired releases. It strayed from magical girl manga and giant robots to family dramas and historical storylines.
I'm expecting some big and promising titles from manga in 2011. Publishers are importing more and more obscure releases, which adds to the spectrum and brings us unique and interesting things to read. Here's a smattering of choices of the hopeful highlights of manga in 2011.
When I first saw the title of this particular manga on the release list, I was suddenly overcome with excitement for a very small moment. I immediately linked it to the video game Aion; a MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game) that I play quite religiously. However, my excitement was cut short when I began to read about Aion the manga. Though it's not the angels warring over seperate ends of the planet as I had hoped, this manga still sounds promising. It's a supernatural/horror tinged school life manga, and even has a touch of "harem" as the male protaginist is surrounded by women.
It's the story of a young, fairly normal high school boy who is left with millions in family inheritence. Before he dies, Tsugawa Tatsuya's father says to him: "Tsugawa family's man must be a man of great caliber." In an attempt to fulfill his father's final wishes, Tatsuya tries to help a bizarre girl he meets: Seine Miyazaki, a girl who is in reality 300 years old and appears to enjoy being bullied. In reality she is an immortal who becomes close to people who are possessed by parasitic sea creatures called "Mushis", so she can hunt and kill them. She is volatile and the title of the manga is based on a black snack like creature that lives within her named "Aion".
This manga sounds pretty gritty and interesting with a touch of that Japanese charm thrown in. I'm interested to check it out.
Monster Hunter Orage by Hiro Mashima
Hiro Mashima is the celebrated creator of popular manga like Fairy Tale and Groove Adventure Rave. He has a unique style and everything he does is fairly recognizable right off the bat. He has been embraced by American audiences due to his inclusion in the manga magazine Shonen Beat, and he was even a notable guest at San Diego Comic Con a few years ago.
Therefore, Monster Hunter Orage is a highly anticipated manga release. It's a simple enough concept, one that has been done a few times before: A fantasy manga based around a lush magical world wherein the characters hunt monsters (as the name implies). However, due to Mashima's interesting art style and uncanny talent for wit and good dialogue, I am hopeful for this fantasy epic.
Many of you may be familiar with the popular children's fantasy series, Deltora Quest, by Australian Author Emily Rodda. It is a spanning epic of young adult fantasy, written to follow the format of a video game, especially role playing games. As such, it has been extremely well recieved in Japan, with an anime and a DS game springing up after its popularity. Not one to dissapoint, finally the English translation of this all ages friendly story is coming to the United States. It follows the typical "adventure" genre storyline, rife with sword fights, incredible quests, and fantastical creatures. Friendship and comaraderie are both primary themes, and this manga should be a recommended read for the younger members of the fandom.
Cage of Eden
I've read Cafe of Eden described as "Lost done the Japanese way", and after reading a synopsis of the series I can see why. It's the story of a plane ful of Japanese classmates, who are returning from a class trip when their plane crashes on an unknown island in the middle of nowhere. With the radio broken and seperated from the majority of their class, the main characters aimlessly wander the island, where they discover creatures previously thought to be extinct wandering about. People go insane and start killing one another, the creatures eat other people alive, and the remaining survivors fight for their lives: both from the elements and the animals that want to devour them.
Bloody Monday is a tech drama, something for fans of anime/manga like Serial Experiments Lain. It's about Takagi Fujimaru, an "average" second year high school student who no one pays much attention to. However, in reality he is the "Falcon", a genius computer hacker who has revealed crimes and outed several dirty politican's secrets. In his hacking escapades, he discovers a deadly virus; a virus that has the baggage of enemies. Suddenly, everyone he talks to is after him in some capacity, and he cannot differentiate from friend or foe.
Bloody Monday is one of the most intriguing titles on this list, and I look forward to being glued to its pages.
Sick of hearing about Twilight? Me too.
And I have just the medicine for you: Vampire Cheerleaders.
A smutty, fluffy manga story that is exactly what it sounds like: a story about Vampire effing Cheerleaders. That's pretty awesome, if you ask me. The rough plot is that one of their members goes missing, so they vampirize (is that the proper adjective?) another girl… and then attempt to keep her from eating the football team. Can I get a hell yes?
A Single Match
Going to the other end of the spectrum from the aforementioned manga, A Single Match is a heart rending, poignant narrative work of short stories. It delves into the absolute depths of human psychology, casting shadows and light both metaphoricially and physically with its harsh illustration style and beautiful story flow.
A Single Match is a beautiful collection of interesting stories, a good read for people who like indie manga or delving into the obscure and mind bending.
I'm a big fan of horror manga, so I'm really looking forward to Lives. It is she story of a meteor falling into the Kyoto region of Japan, creating a hell on earth where man becomes beast and people start eating one another. It is a blood drenched, epic tale of survival and depravity.
Tokypop describes Butterfly as " a hilarious, gender-bending supernatural thriller." It's the story of Genji, an extreme skeptic who rebuffs the idea of anything supernatural and likes life to have its normalcy. If a girl so much as shows interest in astrology or fortune telling, he is instantly turned off and runs away. Out of the blue he meets an elementary school aged girl named Ageha, who kisses him unexpectedly and then tells him she is going to use him to 'wipe out every ghost in the world'.
Lychee Light Club
This manga is an offensive, completely bizarre and horror drenched gothic epic based around some pretty controversial subjects… including race purists and many nods to the nazis. Very rarely is manga actually shrink rapped to avoid prying eyes, but Lychee Light Club boasts this accomplishment.
Why? It's about fascist, horny teenage boys who invent a gathering robot to abduct women for them so they can find the "perfect" woman of their sexual fantasies. Though this sounds incredibly masochistic and terrible and it would be dismal if I, as a woman, were to recommend such a thing, the tables are turned. One of the girls they capture turns the robot against its creators, and wielding a robot of great power she sets out to seek vengeance. The art style is cutting edge and very "poppy", and though it is darkly themed and saturated with gothic shadows, it possesses dry humor and is a fantastic read.
These are only ten of my projected recommendations for 2011, though I'm sure you will see me writing about manga much more in the proceeding weeks. Until then, make sure to pick up these titles when you see them on the shelves of your local manga dealer!
Molly McIsaac is currently encountering the problem of moving all of her manga and comics without breaking her back in the process. Make sure she survives by following her twitter.