There’s one thing in the new year that I always get super, super excited about: new comic book and manga releases. Who really cares about New Year’s Resolutions or all the potential a new year brings? Nah, stack me up with some new reading material and I am one happy camper. It seems like only yesterday I was forecasting my favored manga releases of 2011… ah, how time flies.
Well, now that midnight kisses have been exchanged and champagne has been consumed copiously, it’s time for me to get all giddy and excited about what’s on the horizon for comics from our Eastern brethren. I need to push aside some action figures on my teetering shelves to make room for some new graphic novels, update my pre orders, and wait in antici…pation for packages to arrive on my doorstep bearing shiny new manga full of fantastical stories and SUPA KAWAII characters.
Heart of Thomas
By Moto Hagio
Release Date: August 28, 2012
I am so, so frickin’ excited for this release! I exchanged over to Japan in highschool and struggled through trying to read this classic shoujo manga with my small grasp of kanji, but it was pretty much a lost cause. It’s a manga I’ve been itching to read for years – it’s from the 70s and is apparently heart breaking and lyrical, based off of a French love story. It’s FINALLY being translated into english and released in a hardcover one shot graphic novel.
Heart of Thomas is unique in that it was very nearly not published due to its sensitive subject matter – it’s a comic about gay love amongst teenage boys. Even in Japan, publishing a comic with that subject matter was still a little iffy in the 70s. But thanks to the success of Hagio’s other comic, Heart of Thomas was published. It tells the story of a 13 year old boy who commits suicide after sending a love letter to his [male] classmate, and it explores the teenage boy’s feelings of confused sexuality and love.
5 Centimeters Per Second
By Yukiko Seike
Release Date: June 5, 2012
This looks like a good year for really amazing shoujo manga. 5 Centimeters Per Second is a movie that was adapted into a manga – a format that is usually reversed. It’s a one shot (so no keeping up with serials!) and is in FULL COLOUR (which is actually still pretty rare for manga). It’s a classic love story – one between a boy and girl all the way through middle school until after college. They’re in love the entire time, but due to circumstance and never being in the right place at the right time can’t be together. I’m really looking forward to this one – I’ve seen the movie and it was absolutely incredible. I can’t wait to read it in manga form (my favourite medium for most everything).
Book Girl and the Corrupted Angel
By Mizuki Nomura
Release Date: January 24, 2012
This manga promises to be an entertaining read. It’s about a veritable bookworm, the “book girl” Tohko Amano, head of the literary club. She devours literature… literally. In fact, she’s a demon who survives on the sustenance of words and story telling, so she is in an ideal position as head of the literary club. She has a certain taste for handwritten stories, so she has pretty much enslaved a dorky novelist as her personal “words chef”, forcing him to scribble out delicacies for her on a daily basis. However, one day another student knocks on the door of the headquarters for the Literary Club, asking for advice on how to write love letters, and suddenly Tohko has a new favourite snack…
I’m really excited for this one. It seems like it will be light hearted with a touch of fanciful, and what I’ve seen of the art work so far is unique and pretty.
By Shigeru Mizuki
Release Date: March 27, 2012
This is a bit different than my usual manga selections (which tend to consist of shoujo and horror manga), as this is a psuedo memoir that is family friendly. However, it is by Shigeru Mizuki who is basically the forefather of demon (or yokai – spirit monsters) manga. It is a lighthearted story about the things in his life that brought him his fascination with the occult. It focuses on his grandmother – a grumpy old lady by the name of NonNonBa – who taught him to traverse the spirit world when he was little.
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Okay, so I may be cheating a little bit here with this one, because the first issue is already out (it came out in November). However, that first volume has been innocently sitting on my shelf, untouched with spine uncracked, waiting for the second volume to be released? Why, you ask? Well, CLAMP have made some of my favourite manga ever – Cardcaptor Sakura, Clover, X, Wish, Magic Knight Rayearth… they are an all female manga art team that make whimsical stories with lush universes and memorable characters, not to mention their art and character design is insanely good. So I know that anything they make I’m going to be sucked in to. And Gate 7, with only one volume released, was only going to leave me wanting for more.
Truly, I would suggest going the same route I am. If you are a fan of awesome, awesome shoujo or fantasy manga with unique and gorgeous art work, you will love anything CLAMP does. And with the insane wait between these two volumes, I feel like I’m justified putting this on the list.
Gate 7 is full of magic, overlapping dimensions, high schoolers, beautiful costumes, mythical beasts, and blood thirsty spell casters. Get it.
A Message to Adolf
By Osamu Tezuka
Release Date: August 7, 2012
I surprisingly couldn’t find a lot of information about this manga, but as a history buff and the daughter of a man who was uncomfortably obsessed with World War II Germany, I was instantly intrigued by the title. It’s apparently the intertwining stories of three boys named Adolf (one being the obvious). It has a lot of political and historical commentary, as well as beautiful artwork (from what I was able to find online). Despite not knowing a lot about this manga, I just added it to my pre orders on amazon.
Young Miss Holmes
By Kaoru Shintani
Release Date: March 13, 2012
The description of this manga reads a little like a Mary Sue fanfiction summary, but I can’t help but feel excited for it: It’s about Christie Holmes, the niece of the famed Sherlock Holmes himself. At ten years old, her wit is sharp and she is a crime solving and logical genius, oftentimes assisting her uncle and Mr. Watson on their crime solving adventures. She’s accompanied by her giant hound companion Nelson, and spends most of her time running amuck and getting herself into “trouble” as she solves mysteries.
This manga is great for children, and looks to be an adorable and classic read.
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan
By Nagaru Tanigawa
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Unless you’ve been living under a no anime or manga rock for the last few years, you’ve probably heard of the wildly popular Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. If you haven’t, then this manga probably isn’t for you. Why, you ask? Because it’s a spin off, and unless you’ve read or watched most of Melancholy, you’re not going to really “get” this release. It follows the romance and adventures of a character from Melancholy – one Yuki Nagato – who is apparently just a little bit different in this additional story arc…
I’m a huge dork for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, so I am going to devour this manga as soon as I can get my grimy little mitts on it. And look! It doesn’t come out until July, so if you ARE unfamiliar with Melancholy, you have time to read through it all (or watch it – it’s a pretty awesome anime). How convenient!
A Devil and Her Love Song
By miyoshi Tomori
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Okay, I’ll admit it – I’ve already read this manga on one of those fan translated websites. But it’s a good thing that I have, because if I would have just read the initial description of this manga I probably would have passed it by and it wouldn’t be on this list… and that, my friends, would be pretty damn bad. Because this release has some of the most lovely art I have seen in a long while, and intricate and intense characters that are well thought out and impeccably written. Yes, it is a high school romance drama, but it does not pull any of the typical punches that these sorts of manga tend to.
It follows the life of one Maria Kawai, a maddeningly intelligent and drop dead gorgeous highschool student with a tongue so sharp she can cut through someone with one word. She is quick witted and hot tempered, which only earns her enemies. In fact, she is so troublesome that is she mysteriously kicked out of her prestigous all girls school and transfers to a new, co-ed highschool. She wastes no time making everyone hate her, but once she opens her mouth and sings… well, people start having a slightly different opinion of her and her obvious gift. She’s inadvertently thrown into a love triangle, and drama and intricate social dynamics ensue.
Is This a Zombie?
By Shinichi Kimura
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Oh god. I cannot even begin to articulate how incredibly excited I am to have this manga in my hands. Ever since I learned about it a few months back I have been in a limbo of disbelief and intrigue… because I’m pretty sure this is going to be one of the most ridiculous things I will ever read.
Why? It’s about a zombie. Who appears as a normal high school student. Who is actually a bodyguard to a shy necromancer. Then, he actually steals the powers of a magical girl… and becomes one himself. Complete with a frilly pink dress.
WHY CAN’T I HAVE THIS MANGA RIGHT NOW?!
And there you have it, folks. My top ten selections for the manga releases of 2012 – well, the ones that have been announced, at least. Happy reading, and if you’re looking forward to any manga releases this year, let me know in the comments!
Molly McIsaac wants to be a zombie turned magical girl! That sounds awesome! Follow her quest to greatness and absurdity on twitter.