Let’s share some manga recommendations

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I thought it would be a great idea to open up a post for sharing some manga recommendations. And I would love for you, dear readers, to make some suggestions as well. That’s why I mentioned the whole opening up thing. Maybe you know the feeling when you’re tired of all the Jump Comics and just can’t seem to find something rewarding to read? Something which makes you think about new perspectives and is just inspiring in a certain sense. That’s exactly the stuff I’m searching for. On the other hand, the story can just be plain awesome, that’s cool.

If you follow me on twitter you may have seen the pictures from my last book order from Japan. It was a really big one with some new series as well which I’m really looking forward to. The biggest problem for me is taking pictures at the moment. The light in my apartment is just shitty and the grey weather doesn’t help. But I’ll try some things on the weekend to take some proper pictures of all these new books and manga-series.

But now let’s talk about the stuff that I’m currently reading:

If you’re in search for some transparent book covers to wrap your manga, just click on the link!

Billy Bat

Naoki Urasawa is just a genius. I love everything I read by him: Pluto, Monster, 20th Century Boys, and now Billy Bat. That reminds me, I should really check on his two early slice of life manga Yawara and Happy! anyone read these? Just noticed that there is a new complete edition out for Yawara! Ever month two volumes will be released. (Just bought the first two volumes so watch out for pictures on the blog.)

But back to Naoki Urasawa. His art style is fantastic, very detailed and unique. Billy Bat was actually written by Takashi Nagasaki and is a mysterious tale through many eras and generations. Writing stories over large periods of time is one thing only Urasawa can do. I was always amazed who one single guy (except for Billy Bat) can manga to write such an epic story with so many characters and side stories without totally losing track of things. Hands down, he’s a genius and if you haven’t read anything by Urasawa so far, Billy Bat is a great way to start. I was slacking a bit after reading number 6 or 7 and never really got back into Billy Bat again. But that’s not due to the quality of the manga and just caused by my lazy self. I already forgot half of the story and it’s just too damn good to start somewhere in the middle again with only knowing some bit ans pieces of the story.

Buy the manga: Billy Bat

japanese billy bat

暗殺教室 (Assassination Classroom)

Even if I find most Jump manga mind numbing this is a special one with some great twists on the usual Jump formula. It’s the well known classroom setting but with one difference: The teacher is an alien who wants to destroy the earth. He is willing to give a class of  drop-out students one year to kill him in which they all have to their best to trick their 先生 into making a fatal mistake because otherwise there would be no way to harm him. To make things short, he flies at mach 20 speed and is folding origami at the same time.

Buy the manga: 暗殺教室

assassination classroom japanese edition

Apart from being a pretty caring teacher, he’s constantly supporting his students to become even better assassins and tries to get the best out of them. This is not the most intellectual storyline but rather one of those episodical short stories which are great to pick up and read to relax for a couple of minutes. Only that they are chapters of a continuous storyline. In japan they already released the seventh tankobon and the series doesn’t seem to slow down. It was voted best manga for boys for 2013 on honto on was one of the most beloved new series the year before (when it started) as well. When I visited Tokyo I instantly noticed the really gorgeous cover artwork and without knowing the slightest thing about the story I bought the firsttwo tankobon. Didn’t regret it.

billy bat

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めぞん一刻 (Maison Ikkou)

I was searching for a relaxed manga which was based in a Japanese city. What I finally picked was Maison Ikkou. The author Rumiko Takahashi is probably best known for Ranma 1/2 which is also a really great manga (and very suitable for beginners as well). Maison Ikkou doesn’t support any furigana and while it’s not one of the really difficult manga it can be quite challenging sometimes. At least it is for me. The series was widely popular in the 80s in Japan and even got its own anime back then. I just found it while browsing amazon Japan but the majority of you probably already knows it. Shame on me.

Buy the manga: めぞん一刻

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I’m just a sucker for episodic stories with a slice-of-life character. Maybe that’s why I’m so fond of よつばと as well. The stories are just so damn charming and always capture a certain moment of life you can relate to. The whole series centers around a big apartment building called Maison Ikkou and its inhabitants. There is some romance mixed in as well which gives the story a certain drive but it’s essentially much more about the daily lives and struggles of the inhabitants of めぞん一刻. Great manga and I can’t wait to order some more volumes.

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maison ikkou japanese

北斗の拳 (Hokuto no Ken)

Everybody knows Fist Of The North Star, except me. I haven’t watched the anime back then and never heard anything about the manga itself. I stumbled upon the super violent manga when I was in France a couple of weeks ago and gilt interested in the title. Regarding manga sales and available titles one talks about the “French exception” in the media. And they are damn right. The selection in France is awesome. The even have some of the super nice looking 完全版 I’m always drooling about. And so it was the same with Hokuto no Ken. I went to Fnac in Strasbourgh and saw the French version of the complete edition on display. I skipped through it but didn’t end up purchasing it. I wanted to get the Japanese edition (of course). How I noticed late on this was a good move. Not only the the Japanese version a tad more pretty but the French is cut. If you can say that with manga as well. Ot better yet, some parts are censored. Not wondering why because some images can be pretty graphic in depicting the violence. Nevertheless. A classic manga, not for everyday though.

Buy the manga: 北斗の拳

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北斗の拳

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  • Shaki Ali

    Awesome! I was thinking about checking out Assassination Classroom. Definitely will now. Might even review it on my blog, if I have the time… Got my hands full at the moment.

    • It gets a little dull after a couple of stories but then gains a little momentum again due to some nice plot twists. Not the most intellectual challenging story but a good way to relax :) Give it a shot and please let me know if you like it :)

  • We have a very similar taste in manga. I LOVE 80s slice of life manga. For girly manga, “tenshi nanka jyanai” is one of my favourites.

    • Thanks for your recommendation Charlotte, I’ll make sure to check it out. Have you already read めぞん一刻?

      • I’ve not! I wish there was an easy way to get manga in Europe – it’s even worse here in Germany because everything that’s come from outside the EU you have to go and collect at the customs office and pay extra taxes on them.

        • I’m living in the Eu as well and there are usually no problems when importing books. The tax is only 7% on books over here in Germany so you can basically order for 80€ and still wouldn’t have to pay any taxes even if the package would get hold off in customs. Never happened to me with books though. Just give it a try!

  • HatsuHazama

    Cool cool. I’ve heard good things about 20th Century Boys, maybe I’ll jump in and give it a go. Assassination Classroom sounds interesting… however, that sort of premise sounds like it needs to have an intellectual plot, so that may repel me. Hm, may give it a chance I suppose.

    Argh, I’m so bad at reading manga, I don’t think I’ve read any in 2013 now I think about it. Hopefully I can get back into the manga scene sometime ^.^

    • 20th Century Boys is really amazing but a bit too long for my taste. Not that it gets boring or anything but it took me nearly two years to finish the whole thing. I made several breaks in between but always came back to the series and bought some new more volumes.

      Assassination Classroom is quite fun, especially when you’re into 少年 manga. Just give it a go. especially when the octopus teacher reveals some new weakness, it’s always good fun.

    • Shaki Ali

      I absolutely loved 20th Century Boys. Couldn’t stop reading it… Literally. I was constantly reading it whenever I could and took only break to eat and minimum sleep. Highly recommended.

  • Christian Inthedark Pasti

    Assassination Classroom is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Thanks for sharing.

    • Glad you like it. It’s really a great series to read when you just want to relax. Anything you can recommend manga-wise?

      • Christian Inthedark Pasti

        Lol… it’s strange, I quite like Chobits… it’s interesting to see how people can fall in love with computers, it’s like looking to a close future…
        Another manga I would like to suggest is Reset (from Square Enix, so sometimes you may find characters saying: “I’m playing Final Fantasy”); it’s very interesting (and not very long actually). Basically, people are committing suicide after playing a videogame…

  • doomydoomdoom

    Great posts! Looks like you have excellent taste in manga, reccommending Maison Ikkoku and Fist of the North Star, which happens to be my favorite manga of all time. I used to have all of Ikkoku in English until I had to trash a lot of books and stuff a couple years ago. That beautiful book you have is enough to make me want to rebuy, this time in Japanese… :S Been planning on it anyway as the English version rewrites the nuances of the dialogue too much. MI does focus more on the Kyoko/Godai relationship as it goes along though, so be prepared for some emotions.

    Also you might be surprised to know (if you didn’t already) that HnK was a Shonen Jump manga, and is, along with Dragon Ball and probably Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (both afterwards), the manga that invented all the tropes you see in Jump “battle manga” today. Jump action manga these days are 70% Dragon Ball (that’s the “Dragon Ball Z” portion) and 20% Hokuto no Ken, with 10% Jojo in series like Yu Gi Oh and Shaman King.

    If you haven’t read it yet, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is REQUIRED reading for all manga fans (see my avatar!), it is a standout series with incredible artwork, characters and concepts. And it gets better with each part, reaching a peak around Part 5, and Part 3 the most well known in English speaking countries. English publisher made the stupid decision of starting with part 3 due to video game and anime being based on that part, both came out in the U.S. before the manga. Due to low sales and legal problems with American/British rock and pop music references, that’s all we have of this stellar series. Aside from starting in the middle and name changes because of the band name problems, it was censored to boot, for no good reason. Gotta start from the (admittedly weak compared to what came after) first story arc at least. Common sense isn’t it?

    Assassination Classroom has also been licensed in America, vol. 1 comes out at the end of the year. We thought it would never happen due to the violence and school combo, and our Jump publisher even SAID we’d never have it for that reason. But if it turns out to be censored in any way, I’m going straight for the Japanese volumes.

    • Wow, thanks a lot for this very in depth comment and your kind words. I have seen JoJo when I was in Tokyo and found the covers super interesting looking. Never got around to buying one though. Seems like I really should give this series a try. You mentioned City Hunter as one of the manga from the “Golden Age Of jump” will try this one as well. It seems like Jump was publishing awesome stuff back then. Just recently finished GTO and love it.

      It seems to me like Jump more and more lost its fire. Where are all the dirty jokes and real fighting scenes today?

      I included Dragonball in the easy to read section because many have awesome childhood memories connected with the series and already know the story. Some parts are quite easy to understand, some aren’t and use heavy slang. But if you already know what’s going on it’s not too bad and in the end you should definitely pick something you really enjoy.

      • doomydoomdoom

        No problem! Yes, Jojo is definitely worth it; and the covers are beautiful, you’ll find yourself staring at them constantly LOL. City Hunter is very cool also, big one in France where it was called Nicky Larson. It’s a lot like American detective shows from the 80s like Hunter and The Equalizer.

        Yep, Shonen Jump used to be the absolute best as far as shonen manga; from 1980 to 1996 (most people consider the end of the Golden Age to be the end of Dragon Ball in that year; although there were still great series running like Rurouni Kenshin for several years afterward) Japan was enraptured by the series featured in the magazine and it shot up to become the best selling manga magazine in Japan. Barely a bad apple in the bunch.

        Nowadays the only good, creative series still running are Assassination Classroom and One Piece (well, I like One Piece anyhow, although its dreadful length, wacky art style, and SLOOOOOW start put many off, the series gets a lot of things right that Naruto and Bleach just plain don’t). There was also To-Love-Ru, which definitely satisfies the dirty joke requirement. Other than that Jump’s a bust now IMO.

        Glad you liked GTO (which is not a Jump title BTW, it was serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen Magazine, once home to such legends as Osamu Tezuka and Go Nagai in their prime), you should try the original series that GTO is the sequel to, Shonan Junai Gumi. It’s about Eiikichi and his friend Ryuji, high school students themselves, and their misadventures in trying to get some (what else). Although the art is quite dated (from the very beginning of the 90s), despite the fact that GTO is considered better, and you’ll already know how a lot of questions turn out, it’s still hilarious and contains some good old fashioned manly fights in the form of brutal school gang smash-ups. This is another one that gets short shrift even though it’s the original; so it’s definitely worth a read.

        Agree wholeheartedly with your last statement too.

        • I’m really impressed with you in-depth knowledge about manga. Awesome :) I’m just finishing Dragon Ball and am completely in love with the series. Now everything else what I’ve read Jump-wise feels like a watered down version of it. Without the fantastic art, wacky humor and fantastic setting. It’s really a world of it’s own.

          Search around for some Jojo manga I was not quite sure what to pick up first. As it seems to me there is also a spin-off currently running. Could you maybe point me in the right direction? This here seems like a re-release from the start:http://honto.jp/netstore/pd-book_02130924.html

          • doomydoomdoom

            Haha, I appreciate your impression. :D Late reply coming through… <_< (Too long; didn't read: you're good with that book. Read on for the "buts"…)

            OK: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, "officially", has 8 story arcs spread across 110 or something ridiculous like that volumes. Needless to say, it's one of the longest running manga in publication and it can look daunting to take on. However, the truth is that you can pick and choose what you want to read, you do NOT have to read all 110 volumes in sequence to get the full story like you would with, say, One Piece. It also helps to divide each story arc and say "Part X is xx volumes, Part Y is xx volumes", etc. Then it's not so long.

            The "main story" begins with Part 1, "Phantom Blood", takes a brief sabbatical for Part 2, "Battle Tendency", while still retaining connections, featuring a Joestar protagonist and answering questions raised in Part 1, and THEN Part 1 is resolved with Part 3, "Stardust Crusaders". That's kind of my opinion, that Jojo "spiritually" ended with Part 3., "unofficially" ended with part 6, and "officially" will probably never end. HOWEVER, Parts 4 and 5 at the very least should not be skipped, they are awesome.

            It can get kind of confusing with the stand-alone elements to each arc, but start by reading the first 3 story arcs, spanning vols. 1-28. Where it gets FURTHER confusing is that, after Part 6 ended, Hirohiko Araki began a "new series" called "Steel Ball Run" set in an "alternate Jojo universe." BUT, he eventually changed his mind and Steel Ball Run is now referred to as "Part 7". Jojolion, the new serial, being set in the same alternate universe, is also considered Jojo now. SBR switched to the seinen Jump, Ultra Jump, in 2005, where Jojolion now is, so that sets them further apart from "main" Jojo.

            ANYHOW: Yes, you can start with that volume, which is the first of the bunkoban (pocket edition) of the series. It spans parts 1-6, condensing them into 50 volumes (from the original 64 or something) and volume division is FURTHER CONFUSED!! For instance, I own vol. 6, Part 2 vol. 3. Bleh. (In other words, vol. 6 over all, vol. 3 of Part 2…)

            You can also get the Jojoniums if you have bucks to plunk down; Jojonium is reprinting parts 1-3 with ALL color artwork from the Shonen Jump issues, on high quality, large paper, neat new covers by Araki and such. They are currently somewhere on part 2. OR, you can just get the tankobon with the really neat Araki cover art. OR, for parts 1-3 you can try and track down the Soshuhen editions (I think I spelled that right?) which is the same as Jojonium except cheaper quality, more pages (Part 1 in its entirety stuffed into one giant phonebook of a book)…and OOP for parts 1 and 2 and some of 3 I think.

            WHEW…I hate writing text walls but I had to explain all of this, I guess. :P Let me know if you have any more questions!

          • Thanks a lot for this introduction to JoJo!!! The premise of the JoJonium volumes seems awesome with the high quality print and the bigger format. Something like a great 完全版 for Jojo. Unfortunately they have alternative cover artwork and thinking about you mentioning the awesome artwork on the original volumes I might just get some of these instead. Will have to think about it :)

            I have always seen new volumes of JoJolion advertised on honto and been wondering how these fit in the original JoJo story thanks for shedding some light into all of this :)

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  • I loved Maison Ikkoku! Pretty much most Rumiko Takahashi is a-okay with me. Along those lines I just finished reading Cross Manage. Around those same lines of “slice of life” but short. 5 volumes (at least for the U.S. release). I’ve been a bit out of the loop otherwise, though I’ve felt a resurgence to read more Manga with the advent of tablet apps like the VIZ app. I prefer hard copies, but there’s a lot to be said about the convenience of having several manga titles on one tiny device. Because of my inconsistency with keeping up since the days of Ranma 1/2 and such, I tend to find myself reading a lot of classics again like Dragon Ball, as well as a bunch of one shots just to see what more current/younger mangaka’s are producing. I’ve thought about Food Wars because the art looks sharp, or One Man Punch as I’ve heard good things about either.

    I’ll have to see about getting into Assassination Classroom. That sounds interesting and the art looks good as well. Thanks for sharing your current manga selections.

    • Cross manage seems like a nice title. I just looked for it and it seems like I will pick it up with my next order. I love the “light” feels to these stories. Nothing too serious, just something to enjoy and relax. Assassination Classroom is quite interesting from its premise but i have to admit that I don#t really enjoy the art too much (but hands down the covers of the Japanese volumes are near the top).

      One Punch Man looks so cool as well, so much stuff to read…

  • KK

    Thank you for the recommendations~! I will definitely be looking forward to reading some of these titles, seeing as I’ve been looking around for some easy reads. By the way, did you buy the plastic book covers for your manga? Or did they already come with it? I’ve been looking around to get some plastic book covers for the few original manga I have. XD;;