iFanboy Video Podcast

iFanboy #89 – Discovering Manga

Show Notes

A few months ago, we asked you on iFanboy.com, what manga books should we be reading. We got a tremendous response and went out and found and read your recommendations and come back to talk about it.

We read:


Get Involved

Doing the podcast is fun and all, but let's be honest, listening to the 2 of us talk to each other can get repetitive, so we look to you, the iFanboy listeners to participate in the podcast! "How can I get in on the fun?" you may ask yourself, well here's how:

  • E-Mail us at contact@ifanboy.com with any questions, comments or anything that may be on your mind.

Please don't forget to leave your name and where you're writing from and each week, we'll pick the best e-mails to include on the podcast!


  1. Good show guys, if you’re interested in some other manga then I suggest you check out BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad.

  2. I hope that you guys do this again.  It is fun to see people trying to relate to manga when they are not familar with it.  I hope that you continue to try out new manga because there literally is something for everyone.  I might suggest that the crew try out some shojo like Nana or Maison Ikkoku which are primarily made for young women.  They are usually romantic, funny, and ground in reality as opposed to typical manga that you guys are familiar with.

  3. Great show guys. I did not expect shinchan tocome up.

    My favourite long running series are JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure and One Piece. Also if Ron loves sports + relationship type manga there’s alot to choose from. The best I’ve read over the years is H2, which is about high school baseball+ relationship drama and all that. 

  4. facepalm.jpg


    This was easily one of the funniest shows you’ve ever done. Usually I’m on board with everything that comes out out Josh’s mouth, but this time he just seemed like a stranger in a strange land. Utterly hilarious. You should keep reviewing manga, albiet sparingly, just for the comedic value.


    Great show. 

  5. Rad show, I may pick up Death Note as my first Manga.

  6. I thought the backwards thing you guys did was rather clever


  7. Good Show, hopefully more manga will show up in further espisodes or even focus on just one category of it like horror since they do it so well. I’m glad there was variety from more mainstream stuff to indie like. I’m kind of surprised that Battle Royale was picked if your not that extreme type of thing. I’ll read about grade school kids killing each other like in a Lord of the Flies type way in the series Drifting Classroom but I can’t bring myself to read Battle Royale.

  8. You need to see the movie version of Battle Royale.  It is weird and violent, but not as over the top extreme as the manga appears from the review of the book.

  9. I actually imagine Conor would enjoy JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure.


    surreal, inventive, and unlike anythin you see on the shelf today. Doesn’t hurt that the art is amazing also. I think it’s still going but for me it ended at Part 6: Stone Ocean.

  10. @johnorlandella I love that movie.  I heard it was based on a manga, but I didn’t know it was so brutal.

  11. @whirlwindx – BATTLE ROYALE was picked because it was one of the most recommended in the manga discussion.  We didn’t know anything about hte books we chose beyond what people here said.

  12. the thing about Battle Royale, which is pretty rare, is the movie is far superior to the comic.  Course, the movie was made first and the comic was made to make money off of the success of the movie, but there is just so much the comic missed/changed about the characters. and the story that it falls way short of what the movie has to offer.

    Pick up the movie, you will not be dissapointed.  Watch you don’t get the sequel though, that is pretty bad.

  13. Just put my copy of the BATTLE ROYALE film in my backpack to give to Conor when I see him Saturday.  It’s in my top ten favorite movies.  It does not include a rape scene.  

    I also read the prose novel, which was like an epic beach read.  Haven’t read the manga because I knew it was more exploitative than the movie.   

  14. I think my iTunes feed is screwed, the last 3 full shows I’ve downloaded through them have just frozen on a green screen after roughly 10 minutes while the runtime continues. Every other podcast from iTunes works fine, including back episodes of iFanboy downloaded 3 days ago. I know my spyware/virus programs are working fine, so I’m confused.

    I think from now I’ll just download straight from Revision 3. Not having a go at you guys as it’s obviously working fine, just a glitch on my download, look forward to watching this ep. 🙂

  15. Read Push man earlier this year. meh.

     Lady Snowblood [ four books ] was incredible. 

  16. Great Show guys!!!

    The reason there are very little furniture is because very few people have more than one or two rooms in japan. That’s why futons are so popular but are not like futons that  the west are used to they don’t use wood or metal frames they just go on the floor and are put in a cupboard and that’s why more of the things that the west does in their homes, the Japanese do out in the city for Example bath houses, Places to play with dogs, love hotels.

    The reason the Japanese live like this can be traced back to World War II. After the bomb was dropped the Japanese had to rebuild and a lot of temporary housing that was setup quickly and are still being used today.

    As for the Nudity and Sexuality one of the reason’s that Japanese Comics and Anime can look more extreme to the west is that The Japanese have a clear dissection that they are not pornographic because in Japanese culture they are viewed as just drawings and do not have the same wight.

  17. @zerodni – Yeah, that might be one reason, but there’s a lot more to the Japanese relationship with extreme sexuality than what you’re saying.

  18. @conor – you are absolutely correct but  its just  more accepted in the mainstream in japan, even if BATTLE ROYALE is very much pandering to otaku with so much fan service. this type of content very much exists in The west " Have you seen some of the star trek fan fiction." Its just hidden in the west.


    On a side note i very much think you guys would enjoy the series Read or Die

  19. I’ve tried getting into Death Note, and I just cant. I’ve watched the anime and judging from that….it was okay. Nothing too special, the animation was nice but the story just streched waaay to much (also known as the DragonBall Z syndrome). Battle Royale was a great series, I still like it but I can see why people nitpick it so much.

    Overall I used to be a huge anime/manga freak but the the allure of ‘Western Comics’ came back to me so now I’m all about USA brand comics, go America! Seriously, though the japanese has their own tastes and sometimes it doesnt translate well to an American audience. Down there, it’s normal to have bug eyed, small body, big boob women and other characteristics like that for people. We find that ridiculous and silly, considering we root for a man dressed as a Bat and a human with a ring he uses for power. It’s all cultural differences and sometimes we embrace them, while other times we laugh it off and consider it stupid.

    As for the erotic side of Manga or Japan in general….Well it’s not that big of an extreme once you realise how much we have to offer as a society in terms of sexual themes. Give me any Frank Cho books, Heavy Metal magazines, or any other comics that focuses on big women (Lady Death comes to mind) and anyone else outside the U.S. would say the same thing like we do about Japan. Although we dont have a huge library of porn (aka Hentai) like the Japanese do…boy oh boy you dont know the half of it ^-^

  20. Its might be noted that because the Japanese film industry was in ruin after World War II. Animation was the most economical form to make film. a byproduct of this caused Japanese culture to view animation as a normal vehicle for story telling and don’t have the stigma that animation and comics are for kids. i would think that America would have a huge library of animation that is considered pornographic if the west viewed animation as for everyone and not just for kids, because porn is prevalent in every media.

  21. @conor.  Hey, the show is awesome and I really enjoyed this one on manga specifically.  An important thing to note about Battle Royale, and most all Japanese youth violence depictions, is that they are solely intended to be social commentaries on the actual state of violence in Japanese youth. Battle Royale is basically, "what if this problem keeps getting worse."  It’s an entertaining film, but it also has a real message. I dont know much about the manga adaptation.

    In Japan, they definitely don’t view an illustrated rape scene as just a drawing. Anyone could walk into a Japanese comic shop and see that they have entire sections devoted to that genre and more distasteful topics. Big tits in Heavy Metal is one thing, but most of the stuff in Heavy Metal comes from foreign artists so i dont think the rest of the world would view it as negatively as Americans should view japanese hentai, doujinshi and lolicon. Most of that stuff should be completely unavailable, yet Japanese society almost seems to embrace it, or just look the other away. I am not trying to culture bash by any means, so I am sorry if I sound that way.  

    Japan is awesome and their cultue is extremely unique.

    Video Girl Ai is my favorite manga series.  


  22. I used to read Lupin the Third manga when i was in highschool. I remember it being pretty good.

    I can appreciate a manga every now and then but overall the culture difference is to vast for me to read them on a regular basis. Alot of the stories just seem too strange for me and i can’t get into them. Lupin was cool cause the premise was simple (he’s a master thief, running from a detective, theres a girl, etc.) but i just can’t wrap my head around something like Battle Royale.

  23. I’ve read 2,100 plus pages of manga… which is to say I’ve read Akira.  Heh.


    Oh, and Child of Dreams… but I’m thinking the fact that Batman was in it disqualifies it. 

  24. Good show, despite the fact that the only manga I’ve ever been interested in is oldboy, and thats just because I love the movie.

  25. I really hated the BATTLE ROYALE movie but I’m definitely in the minority on that one.

     SHIN CHAN actually has a show on ADULT SWIM now and it’s really very funny.  They’ve done a really great American dub and it’s completely offensive and crass and I love it.  I highly recommend it. 

  26. I haven’t watched the show yet, but I do love DeathNote.  I hate manga, but some dudes at my LCS talked me into this one, and I’ve been freaking loving it. 

  27. The biggest manga’s right now are Naruto, Death Note, Fruits Baskets, Negima!, and Bleach. I should know this because working at bookstore, you see these all the time for customers. The majority of these manga seem to try and translate for a Western audience even if they were created in the East. They might still have the cultures and characteristics of an Asian culture, but they seem to really try and translate them into an American comic more then anything else.

    My bookstore sells regular fantasy manga, to Mature Only manga, and even some Yaoi (guy/guy) manga. The mature and yaoi manga do have suggestive themes in them (like pantyshots and big boobs), but some of them also do contain sex, hardcore even. It seems to me that parents should know what the kids are buying before they let them spend their own money on it. A 11 year old girl bought a manga I knew would carry suggestive themes or sex in a book, but as long as the parent think’s its a hip thing right now….They arent going to ask what is in the manga to begin with.

    In Japan it seems like it is the norm to have these more mature stories for something generally towards kids. Zerodni was on to something about how the film industry was in ruin so this was the only medium to tell adult stories. That might be the case back then, but today the Japanese have a wide variety of entertainment like we do. There’s no reason to have rape or any other type of distasteful storylines in your ‘regular’ manga. Not saying rape is tolerated by me in anyother way….but if you want to have the freaks see that in the manga, then stick it to Hentai so I dont have to see it in my other manga’s. That’s why Hentai is a seperate industry all it’s own. Heck 5% of Japan’s economy relies on Hentai! That is so amazing to me, I cant see our porn industry being that huge of a factor in our overall economy.

  28. You had me at Hebrew and Japanese…

    Finally, an episode where I could have detroyed you thanks to my larger knowledge of manga, Japanese culture and art.  Plus, my pronounciation is ten times better.

  29. Great episode! I haven’t read much manga, so I’ll have to check out these books.

    Has anyone read the manga series Barefoot Gen? It was my first manga, and I read volume one of it for a class. It’s about what happens to the survivors of Hiroshima after the dropping of the bomb. It’s been described as a Japanese version of Maus (minus the whole anthropomorphic animal thing), and Art Spiegelman even wrote the introduction to the English translation. Unfortunately, the last few volumes haven’t been translated into English yet, so I’m waiting to finish the series until I can read the whole thing. Highly recommended!

  30. To Conor:

     Go rent "Batoru rowaiaru."  It’s the adaptaion of "Battle Royale."  It came out in 2000.  It’s even more insane and amazing then the graphic novel.  Do it or you’re a fool!

  31. I was quite dissapointed in this show. The selection of books sucked in my book. But then again I’m not much into the Tokyopop-lead wave of books.

    The guys should be reading a crime epic like Sanctuary. But it’s no a big enough cliche I guess.

  32. "Clams Casino"! I love that Seinfeld reference, keep it up Ron!

  33. Battle Royale, manga-ok at best, movie- silly, book- the best. That’s the best bet i can think of. I feel as though you guys snubbed the best manga team ever, Kazuo Koike and Gosekei Kojima (Lone Wolf and Cub, Samurai Executiomer, Lady Snowblade). But good job anyways.


    Side note: HAJIME NO IPPO very good!!!

  34. @josh- I was wondering how you felt about the way women were portrayed in Lone Wolf and Cub?  If I remember correctly you read it and liked it.  On the show, you did not care to have rape and exploitation of women in your books like there was in Battle Royale which I totally understand.  However, Lone Wolf and Cub had lots of horrible things happening to women all the time.  Examples like a mentally handicapped women pleasuring herself in front of a bunch of horny old men with a dildo or the time where Ogami had to pleasure a prostitute in front of other men or else she would have been ganged raped seem to me to be as bad as what was in the first volume of Battle Royale.  If fact that woman that avoid the gang rape enjoyed it and proclaimed Ogami as a man’s man.  I was just wondering if these things detracted from your enjoyment of Lone Wolf and Cub?

  35. @Hoshigaki – Josh didn’t read BATTLE ROYALE, I did.  He read DEATH NOTE.

  36. @Connor- I know that.  I felt that while watching the show that Josh seemed as disgusted by Battle Royale’s content as you did.  If I’m wrong, I’m sorry.  I do still want to know how Josh felt about that sort of content in relation to Lone Wolf and Cub.

  37. What about those books that TokyoPop produces?

    Are you guys planning to read any of those anytime soon? (TokyoPop novels)

    The only manga I read was King of Hell (volumes 1 to 3).

    I have Gosick Volume 1 which is a book (didn’t know it at the time) – there’s a girl smoking a pipe on the cover and it’s about some murder mistery so I bought it (i like those – even the pulpy ones and the crappy ones)

    I also bought  Dragon Sister! Volume 1 by TokyoPop because of the short paragraph about the book, and the booby cover. I started reading it and there was a short background story and it said something about three kingdoms and I got bored and stopped.

    I’ll check out more manga in the future, but it doesn’t help when it’s basically (at least in my shop – even the long list you can pre-order from) relationship, porn, porn, gay porn, huh?, porn, porn, huh?, porn, gay porn, WTF?, relationship.

    porn and over the top violence is a cheap way to get people to buy the book. It’s that way in WildStorm Armageddon TP:

    giant boobs, nazi robots, communists, captain marvel like guy that turns back to an old man is having a threesome, very low pants, same plot at each chapter with just another team. that’s after The Highwaymen which I didn’t like, and Team Zero which was crap.

    Anyway there is enough of that on the internet and in tv shows.

    How about a manga vault show? you haven’t read much but it’s backwards so it would make sense…sort of

  38. I was rather pleasantly surprised by the suggestions by the Ifanbase, I assumed that you guys would go for the mainstream shonen-jump series (naruto/onepiece, maybe DBZ) but instead you go and impress a fella with distinct manga’s like death-note! The mind-games are both a refreshing change from American comics that are heavy on standard punch-action (I’m generalising) and also different from many other generic manga formula’s.

     ‘TheNextChampion’, "… story just streched waaay to much". You’re so right! After committing myself to Deathnote for 90 chapters (there are a total of 111 including chapter "0")  i could no longer carry on, *spoiler alert* after L died the cat and mouse chase ended and that’s where I kind of felt like part of the story died with that character. It was their chemistry that had made all the witty writing work and what compelled me to care about what happened…

  39. Honestly, it’s been so long since I read Lone Wolf and Cub, that I couldn’t tell you.  But I don’t remember being disgusted all that much.  Perhaps that’s because there were many, many horrible people in that book. It was chock full of bad guys, and there was almost no one with any redeeming value, except for the main characters.  Perhaps it was the context, being set in a different time and place, when standards weren’t the same as now.  But that’s as much as I can remember.

  40. @josh- Thanks for the clarification.  I was just wondering because during certain parts of Lone Wolf and Cub, I felt the same way about it as Connor did about Battle Royale. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Lone Wolf and Cub but sometimes I felt unclean reading it.

  41. Lone Wolf and Cub is REAL rapey. At least the movies are, in fact thus far every villian that has been introduced in the series (I’m only on three) is a raptist, as well as two other evil things….

    Also, everyone’s blood is highly preassurized…like really…
  42. Great show!  🙂 Death Note sounds interesting. I might possibly read that…maybe.

  43. @conor  

     As thepaul1984 stated Battle Royale is more of a social commentary than a solid story.  I read the novel after reading a review of the movie.  I loved the book for it’s characters, and the way their personalities evolved over the course of the story.  When I finally tracked down a copy of the movie, I was genuinely impressed with the adaptation.  (Just don’t watch the sequel)  Putting a visual to the violence, was disturbing, but not without cause.  The movie was even slightly controversial in japan for it’s use of teenagers with the subject matter.

     As someone who has been reading manga for awhile, I was looking forward to the manga.  I was interested to see how it could work with the story and characters.  Unfortunately, I had the same reaction that you did.  In place of letting the characters, who are mostly innocent, fall into the animalistic game, they generated elaborate back-stories about why they need to do what they must to survive.  Now seeing as the original author did the adaptation, it may have been the story that was in his head the whole time.  For me, it was violent and graphic just because they could.

     Basicly what i’m getting at is, read the book.  I would hate for your only opinion of the story to be the manga.


      P.S. – I’m a sucker for most manga, and comics in general.  I would say my fave and guilty pleasure, would be Love Hina.  It’s not a great work of literature by any means, but as someone who grew up a geek, it strikes a chord.

  44. Genshiken is best. Love it. 

  45. The Connor Double Fake out was amasing. Great Show guys.

  46. @MrHyde,

    Never got too far into love hina, I enjoyed it, (As you pointed out, most geeks can relate to some of the situations, and if not; they’re plain hilarious anyway)but it felt a bit like the main characters quest to track down his childhood friend was going nowhere at times, without any clear focus for the plot, I found myself uninterested eventually.

     Though I think that the creator seems to have learnt from this and made a manga superior in pretty much all ways. "Negima!" the new manga (well, it’s gone past 200 chapter/issues by now…) has a solid storyline and offers lots of laughs. The story can be explained as a mix of awkward (of the non-creepy variety) school situations with a unique twist + harry potter; The main character is a young teacher at an all girls school (What, you’re already leaving to buy it now? :P) which turns out to be a front for a community of mages. It’s got lots of light and entertaining bits in the beginning but also offers a rich fantasy story, suitable for young teens and up I would say… Give it a read if you can track it down.

  47. Surprised there was not Tezuka in this list. Not because it’s brilliant but because I think it helps understand what manga is all about

  48. @TheNextChampion — You are correct that the Japanese film industry has many forms of media to work with now. I was just saying it was the historical reference for why it is so integrated in to their culture.


    @AlexG — I know what you mean he is like the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney in japan. I’m also a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki with his Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. His Manga took story telling to a new level.

  49. I enjoyed Death Note, though it seemed to me that every other volume was brilliant and the ones in-between we just okay. I prefer the ending of the anime to the manga.

    A couple other good reads are Black Lagoon and Battle Angel Alita. 

  50. I just saw this episode last night and today i go to watch a movie at a movie trailer, and pre-trailers there’s an advertisement announcing that the movie theatre will be hosting a screening for ‘Death Note II’ and i started wondering if this was from the manga, and sure enough, i think it is.  The film is japanese, they showed a black book in the clips, and they even showed the demon (in cheap CGI no less).

  51. MONSTER, highly recommended; however I am biased as a physician.  What a nightmare! – Sticking your neck out against hospital politics, to do "the right thing," and paying dearly from it.  THEN it gets interesting.

    synopsis:  Brain surgeon saves young boy and years later, suspects that the boy has become a serial killer.

  52. Battle Royale Movie = Brilliant work of Social Commentary

    Battle Royale Manga = Utter exploitationist garbage pandering to deviant degenerate scum

  53. Conor, you owned those manga reading young people!

     honestly, manga?

    but seriously i think you’re right most of the manga i have read was way too violent and sexualized.  hang tough brother

  54. Nice show. Regarding the reversed reading direction, does anyone think it’s really necessary for it to be printed in its original format? The Lone Wolf & Cub books were presented in a Western-style layout. I assume they just reversed the spread image so that the flow of the panels would be preserved. The only problem this could cause is if there were words within the art, but these would have to be translated anyway. 

    Not that I’m not open to other cultures, but I mean the things are being translated anyway, so the whole "preserve the integrity of the Japanese version" is a little suspect. My feeling is that it’s more about the gimmick. Having something that is foreign and Japanese-y. Hey, it’s worked, i guess.

  55. I don’t have the original King Of Hell Volume 1 manga in whatever language it was (korean I think)  but the english TokyoPop version and the hebrew version are mirror opposites of each other.

    At first it was annoying to me but if your eyes go through the same art at the same route it’s ok I guess and it’s just a matter of choosing the better printing (in this case it was the TokyoPop edition).

    As for background noises – in that book in both versions it was not translated which is a shame since it seems more important than the USA equivelant where you see a phone ringing and it says "rrring rrring". 

  56. You guys did good. I guess we’re going to get another show or audio podcast on this- right?


    As for pronunciation, I think you skated, you survived. Though, I think adding letter’s to a guy’s name is even worse than mispronouncing it 🙂

  57. If I were to recommend two or three mangas for the novice reader, I’d recommend Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa–already mentioned on the bombing of Hiroshima.  It is graphic in some of the pages but not gratiuously so. The graphic shows the horrors that came out of that incident in WWII, and overall is a wake up call for preventing these events in the future.

     Secondly I’d recommend, Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix: A Tale of the Future. Just about anything by Tezuka is good by me, but in the Phoenix books Tezuka merges Sci-Fi with ancient Japan. I know it sounds weird but it works.  If you enjoy Sci-Fi, I’d at least pick up the first couple of volumes, he has a great imaingination.  The Buddha books, which you showed on the program are also good.

     Lone Wolf & Cub by Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima–great epic sumurai adventures.  Frank Miller mentioned these may moons ago in one of his interviews way back when, and I thought hey, if this and some of the other manga was an influence on Elektra or Ronin they might be worth checking out.

     Finally on the lighter side of things, Gon by Masashi Tanaka–is maybe for a younger auidence, but I’ll go with all ages, about a lone dinosaur’s adventures. This is without captions or dialog, yet the pictures carry the storyline.

    And lastly, not offically manga, but one would have to mention Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, a rabbit ronin, that has some great stories in it. It’s about the adventures of a sword-weilding masterless warrior (ronin), and actually you get a pretty good feel for Japanese culture thru it.



  58. I’ve only read a little manga, but i’d definitely recommend Akira, excellent sci-fi epic, and Uzumaki, twisted horror stories based round a towns obsession with spirals. Weird but great!

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