As I popped champagne and smeared lipstick on the faces of all of my closest friends, fireworks illuminating my face, only one thought crossed my mind: NEW YEAR, NEW MANGA.
One might say I have a slight manga problem. I have an entire Ikea Expedit shelf so full of manga that I can hardly pull the titles out to read them. My apartment is an explosion of hot pink bindings and bizarre titles, and I kind of like it that way. In my constant quest for MOAR MANGA, I have obsessively stalked upcoming releases for years now. And as someone who has been obsessively reading manga since I was about 12 years old… well, it’s time to share my excitement with the rest of the internet.
Even if you’re just getting into manga these are all great titles to pick up. While I am excited for volume releases (IE Graphic Novel Vol. 6 of undetermined manga) the only manga you will see on this list will be manga that is new to release in North America – and trust me, 2013 is going to be a doozy. My Amazon wishlist is already full of half of these titles, and I’m so enthused to read them I am shivering like a chihuahua. (Please note: I will be including the publisher’s press release description of the manga along with my own commentary, as I have not actually read any of these titles yet!)
Doubt by Yoshiki Tonogai
Release Date: 04/23
A Japanese cell phone game called Rabbit Doubt has gone viral in Tokyo. In it, players are rabbits who must do everything in their power to uncover the wolf in rabbit’s clothing before it kills them off. The wolf, a randomly selected player, must use his wiles to create mistrust among the rabbits and knock his adversaries off one by one. When five fans of this game decide to meet offline for fun, the last thing they expect is to lose consciousness and wake up trapped in an abandoned building with a corpse strung up in front of them, a mysterious barcode tattooed on each of their bodies. Will the virtual friends be able to pull it together in the real world and figure out what’s going on in time to avoid ending up the wolf’s dinner?
Sankarea 1: Undying Love by Mitsuru Hattori
Release Date: 06/11
“I ONLY LIKE ZOMBIE GIRLS.”
Since he was little, Chihiro has felt an unusual emotional connection to zombie movies. It’s not that he feels bad for the survivors – instead he fantasizes about comforting the poor undead girls they slaughter! When his beloved pet passes away, he decides to brew up a resurrection potion in secret. But he’s discovered by popular girl and local heiress Sanka Rea, whose life isn’t as perfect as it seems… and Furuya suggests that she could serve as a test subject!
I mostly want to read this because the concept is a zombie one that I haven’t seen executed yet… and face it, the zombie horse has long been dead and has feasted upon more brains than it knows what to do with yet we STILL keep beating it. Kind of freaky potentially serial killer perverse male protagonist who has a living dead girl fetish? Sign me up!
The Sacred Blacksmith by Isao Miura
Release Date: 06/04
Like her father and grandfather before her, Cecily Campbell has entered the knighthood and joined the ranks of the Knight Guards of Houseman. Eager to do her heritage proud and defend her city, Cecily rushes to the marketplace to stop a madman from terrorizing the populace. She quickly realizes, however, that she is hopelessly outmatched and ill-prepared for an actual fight. A lone figure named Luke Ainsworth swoops to the rescue, a swordsman and blacksmith of much renown, who will repair the broken sword Cecily has inherited from her father and take her down a road of perilous adventure beyond her wildest dreams.
No. 6 by Atsuko Asano
Release Date: 06/11
A PERFECT LIFE, IN A PERFECT CITY
For Shion, an elite student in the technologically sophisticated city No. 6, life is carefully choreographed. School, study, and the occasional visit with his friend and classmate Safu. One fateful day, however, he takes a misstep, sheltering an injured boy his age from a typhoon. Known only as Rat, this boy is a VC – a fugitive living outside the computerized tapestry of city control – and helping him will throw Shion’s life into chaos and start him down a path to discovering the appalling secrets behind the superficial perfection of No. 6.
The description of this got me so stoked that I had to walk away from my laptop for a second. It reminds me of Akira or something akin to that – brilliant scifi psychological thriller that really gets under your skin and into your brain, making you think. I’ve already pre-ordered this one.
Judge by Yoshiki Tonogai
Release Date: 08/20
A young man, driven by jealousy over love, tells a lie that accidentally results in the death of his older brother. Some time later, Hiro is kidnapped and confined to a room with eight other people, each wearing a grotesque animal mask. Their kidnapper informs them that their time has come to be judged for their “sins”-and that they will have to judge one another. Every twelve hours, the captives must choose who among them will die…and only four will remain alive when all is through…
This is the second Tonogai title I have on this list, and it appears that he has a thing with people wearing animal heads (a furry in denial, perhaps?). However, both plots for his manga that is coming out this year sound EXCELLENT – real nail biters that will have us sleeping with all the lights on. Besides, animal heads ARE terrifying.
21st Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa
Release Date: 01/15
War is over. The Friend is dead. Mankind no longer faces the threat of extinction. Peace has finally come to Tokyo… or has it? The mystery still remains. Nobody knows who the Friend was and where he came from. The only clue is hidden deep within the memories – the memories of the hero Kenji. It is time to open Pandora’s Box to discover what is left at the bottom.
I’m a sucker for vague descriptions and intense scifi. This manga has both.
Barrage by Kouhei Horikoshi
Release Date: 03/05
Spunky slum kid Astro gets the chance of a lifetime to end the chaos ripping apart his home planet when the playboy prince switches places with him. Now Astro has become Prince Barrage, a boy charged with the duty of restoring peace to the planet…and given an all-powerful magical spear to do it!
In order to save the planet, Astro will have to battle terrifying aliens while learning how to fight from his even more frightening guardian, the exacting knight Tiamat. Does a kid like Astro have what it takes to become the real prince and save the planet?
This is your young adult/children entry to the top ten list. Upon reading about this manga, it reminded me of something like Full Metal Alchemist or Dragon Ball – both excellent comparisons. I’m excited to pick it up!
Tokyo Babylon Omnibus by CLAMP
Release Date: 03/13
It’s 1991, the last days of Japan’s bubble economy, and money and elegance run through the streets. So do the currents of darkness beneath them, nourishing evil spirits that only the arts of the onmyoji – Japan’s legendary occultists – can combat. The two most powerful onmyoji are in the unlikely guises of a handsome young veterinarian, Seishiro, and the teenage heir to the ancient Sumeragi clan, Subaru.
I may have lied a little bit: this is the only manga on this list I have read, and just like everything else CLAMP (the all woman manga-ka team!) has done, it’s absolutely incredible. Beautiful costumes, strong characters, lush environments, unique art, and compelling love stories. However, the fact that it’s all coming out into one big omnibus has me giddy like a schoolgirl whose crush just passed her a note that said “do you like me? Circle yes or no.”
Crimson Empire: Circumstances to Save a Noble by QuinRose & Hazuki Futaba
Release Date: 04/02
Featuring a strong heroine who is a deadly assassin yet awkward when dealing with the many male suitors who surround her, Crimson Empire: Circumstances to Serve a Noble combines romance, fantasy and swashbuckling adventure. Each volume contains impressive shoujo-style artwork and color pinups.
From the time she was sold into servitude as a young girl and told by a handsome demonic figure that she had a destiny to fulfill, Sheila’s childhood was anything but easy. After joining an assassins’ guild to undergo rigorous training, Sheila is later taken in by the dashing Prince Edvard to serve as both his housemaid and bodyguard.
As skillful as she is with a blade, Sheila hasn’t a clue when it comes to courtly romance. While she uses her talents to help Edvard win the throne, can she stave off the many admirers who vie for her heart?
The shift in shoujo manga this year with strong, badass female protagonists who still embrace love or are socially awkward penguins is making me happy.
Knights of Sidonia by Tsutomu Nihei
Release Date: 02/05
Outer space, the far future.
A lone seed ship, the Sidonia, plies the void, ten centuries since the obliteration of the solar system. The massive, nearly indestructible, yet barely sentient alien life forms
that destroyed humanity’s home world continue to pose an existential threat.
Nagate Tanikaze has only known life in the vessel’s bowels deep below the sparkling strata where humans have achieved photosynthesis and new genders. Not long after he emerges from the Underground, however, the youth is bequeathed a treasured legacy by the spaceship’s coolheaded female captain.
Deep space scifi? Check. KNIGHTS in space? Check. Females in power? Check. I’ll take one to go, please.
What manga are YOU looking forward to in the new year, iFanbase? Do any of these manga strike your fancy? Let me know in the comments!