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Let's talk manga

Old 09-02-05, 12:24 PM
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Let's talk manga

[Note: I've checked some other threads, but they're either old or unfocused, so please don't delete.]

I'm interested in trying some manga, but man, there are just too many books out there. I don't know where to begin. I understand that manga isn't a genre, is a style. But are there any "must reads" that could help get my feet wet?


If there are others in the audience who know a lot about manga, I'd appreciate it if you shared some of your knowledge. And I'd like this thread to discuss what's good and what isn't, where to buy some of the darker books that aren't available at B&N, etc.
Old 09-02-05, 02:25 PM
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What genre are you interested in?

I buy a ton of manga every month, though I admittedly know little of the Shoujo side of things besides the cross-over titles like DNAngel and Yuu Watase stuff.

Off the top of my head

Dark Horse:
Blade of the Immortal from Dark Horse is a great, great series. It's an older Dark Horse manga series, so it's a bit bigger, more expensive than most manga today, and comes out at a snails pace because it's still being released as a monthly comic. Also, the panels have been cut up and repositioned to make it read left-to-right (so you'll see little inconsistencies, since they don't just "flip" the image). It starts off as the story of a young girl who wants to avenge her family, and who runs into this immortal killer who decides to help her. But the story branches off quite a bit after that's established. Very gruesome, though.

Berserk is another title from Dark Horse, is also very gruesome, but is unflipped and smaller (though still a little more than the 10 bucks most manga goes for). It's a fmedieval antasy/horror series, and both the manga and anime is recommended. In fact, if you've seen the anime and it's ending, you almost have to read the manga.

For lighter, fluffier fare, Oh My Goddess is pretty good, though a bit repetitive. Incredible art, though,and they're re-releasing the series in a smaller format. Young college guy dials up a number and ends up with three "Goddesses" (based on North mythology) living with him. I usually hate harem manga, but this one isn't just about pure titilation, and the art is beautiful.

Akira is an Otomo classic, much, much better than it's shortened anime counterpart. Six huge volumes, complete. Trigun and Hellsing are also pretty good, though artistically they can take some getting used to.

DC/CMX:

Of course, they absolutely brutalized Tenjo Tenge by censoring it, so I can't recommend it.

I like Madara, which is more of an old-school fantasy title. I pick up some other titles like Sword of the Dark Ones (Ragnarok) but it's not fantastic or anything.

Del Ray:
I don't buy anything from them currently but Negima seems to be popular

Tokyopop:

Tons and tons of manga from both them and Viz, so I'll just list a few:

Battle Royale: it's popular, but it's pretty sick and twisted, and it's not so much translated as it is "rewritten" by Keith Giffen. High School class gets put on an island where they are forced to face off against each other until only one is left, all while being televised. Go read the book (or watch the movie) instead.

Planetes is a must have. Only 5 volumes complete (the last two are labeled something liek 4.1 and 4.2). The story of trashmen in space, but a great sci-fi story.

As a huge shonen fan, I enjoy Samurai Deeper Kyo, though like most shonen fare it's really long, and consists of fighting and more fighting against stronger and stronger enemies. Ostensibly evil (though not really) samurai warlord gets put in the body of a seemingly mild-mannered medicine man.

Viz:

A lot of people bemoan the seemingly arbitrary censorship that Viz puts on their titles, but I don't mind it as much as I do CMX's. Plus I love shonen.

The shonen jump titles are mainly for little boys in Japan, and are generally fighting manga where the main character meets enemies, enemies become his allies, and they go off to fight stronger and stronger enemies all with a "can do it" attitude. Dragonball is the prototypical example of this. I grew up on this stuff and love it, but it may be too "kiddy" for most people. Also, a lot of these are shown in Saturday Morning cartoons (One Piece, Shaman King) or on Cartoon Network (Zatch Bell, soon Naruto). The cream of the crop, to me, are Dragonball (it's a lot better when you can flip pages), One Piece, Naruto, and Rurouni Kenshin.

One Piece: Luffy wants to be the King of the Pirates! Only problem is when he was young, he ate the cursed fruit that gave him the power to stretch, but also made him unable to swim. He's also not very bright, but he has the will to succeed.

Naruto: Naruto wants to be leader of his Ninja Clan! Only problem is that he actually has an evil fox spirit trapped inside him, which gives him access to tremendous power but gets him nothing but distrust and even hatred by others in the clan. He's also not very bright, but he has the will to succeed. (I know, they're similar, but both are very good)

Rurouni Kenshin: the famous Battosai from the Meiji revolution decides to devote his life to peacefully defending the people, taking a vow never to kill again and using a specially made "reverse blade" sword. It comes out at a lightning pace (2 volumes a month).

Battle Angel Alita (Gunnm): there are two series: the original and the newer Last Order, which is a sequel/alternate ending to the first series. Both are very good cyberpunk, and the artist gets better and better. Alita is a female android, rebuilt by a kindly scientist. She has no memory, but possesses amazing fighting skills, and lives in the dump of a planet underneath Tiphares, where the citizens live.

Bastard: Evil (but not really), perverted former sorcerer king is trapped in the body of a young boy. Medieval/fantasy setting, art gets better and better, though the plot is hard to follow at times.

Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President: As unlikely a scenario as it is, the story of an Asian American man running for President. Not as hokey as it sounds, and while it may not be totally politically accurate, it's an interesting look at how a foreigner (the author) looks at American politics.

Maisson Ikkoku: Down-on-his-luck, struggling college hopeful Yusake falls in love with the new manager of his building.

Project Arms: Young boy finds that he's been implanted with nanotechnology dubbed ARMS, and is hunted by an evil organization. From the same guy that did Striker/Spriggan.

Ranma 1/2: Teenage boy goes to China to train with his father, they both fall into separate cursed pools. When he's splashed with cold water, he becomes a girl (hot water turns him back). His dad becomes a panda! Basically he ends up with a group of girls wanting to marry him for one reason or another.

Ah, there are others, but this post is going pretty long...
Old 09-02-05, 05:33 PM
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Great post, Fujishig. To be honest, I'm not even sure what genre I'd like. I basically want something that's well written. But to be honest, I like very few styles of manga. I looked at Berserk, and while the book looks cool, I don't know about the art. Blade of the Immortal looks to have decent art, but the style I really like is the one done by Eric Kim who draws LOVE AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE for Oni. I don't know, maye that's the art style for the young girl or titilation stories?



I'm all for titilation, as long as it's surrounded by a solid story. And I'd rather have it be more a more mature or adult story than something aimed at teens. I also think that I'd like to have more serious, or perhaps more dramatic pieces over the typical adventure stuff we get with American superheroes.

Also, is there an easy way to tell what age group certain books are designed for? Are they labled?

Also, what are the different types of manga? I've heard of Hentai and Shoujo and a few others, but really have no idea what those words indicate.
Old 09-02-05, 06:26 PM
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I'm not into manga, but I've sampled a bit. I've been pretty surprised that I've really disliked most of the stuff I've tried. I read a couple issues of Raijin and didn't like a single story in them. OTOH the 2 manga I have found that I liked, I absolutely loved. Akira would probably be in my top 10 favorite comics ever. I've also read some of 20th Century Boy and I'm really looking forward to reading more. I don't think it's been released in the US yet though. I read some translated scans.
Old 09-02-05, 07:53 PM
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I think every manga comes with an age recommendation rating on the back, so you can pretty easily tell what the audience is for a particular book.

I swear, Tenjo Tenge would be a good choice if it wasn't so mutilated...

Berserk's artist gets better, but his faces still look a little awkward.

That Oni book's style seems more like an "anime" style: where there's a lot of cartoon cell-like shading and whatnot. It's attributed to a japanese style, though it's more of an American invention because manga is generally not in color anyway, and stuff like that tends to need color (though I have no idea what the art is like on the inside, the cover seems to be that kind of Dreamwave/Udon art).

I would definitely give Bastard a try. It's tittilating and pretty adult, though if you don't like swords and sorcery, you probably won't like it either. Pop open a copy of Oh my Goddess as well to see if you like the art.

Ah, how could I forget Video Girl Ai from Viz. Beautiful art, uncensored for the most part (unlike the other manga by the same author, Iis), and a decent story. It's still about teenagers/college students, though. He also did Shadow Lady, though I think it's out of print (from Dark Horse).

If Crying Freeman or Sanctuary are still easily found, those are great stories with great art as well. Definitely very adult. The artist also did Mai the Psychic Girl, which is also pretty good.

Can't believe I also forgot Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind, by Hayao Miyazaki himself.

Ah, and all of Masamune Shirow's work. Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell II, Appleseed, Dominion, Orion, and Black Magic. Incredible, incredible art.

Shonen = young boys comics
Shoujo = young girls comics
(actually, the distinction usually comes from which Japanese magazine the original was published in...)
Yaoi = homosexual (I don't get these, but hey, to each their own)
Hentai (actually H) = perverted, XXX, etc.

If you don't get many views here, I'd go to AOD's manga forums and look around.
Old 09-02-05, 10:08 PM
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I would suggest thumbing through an issue of Shonen Jump, to see if you would be interested in any (or all) of the manga featured in it. Those titles are all going to be from Viz.

If you play World of Warcraft, there is a new manga out based on it.

Azumanga Daioh is one of the funniest manga series (and shows) out there. There are only 4 books, so it is cheaper to pick up.

GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka) is a funny, serious, perverted, wonderful series, although it has hit 25+ books...

You might check out the Slayers novels. These are the original stories that the manga and TV shows were based on. This is a great humorous fantasy series.

PlanetES is a realistic space drama about astronauts who use a garbage scow to clean up debris in orbit.

Remote is an interesting police drama where a female officer has to be the eyes and ears of a housebound detective.

I have heard some good things about some of the Korean Manhua, although I haven't read any yet... King of Hell, Priest, etc.

Tuxedo Gin is a funny story about a guy who gets reincarnated as a penguin, and ends up being adopted by his true love... He has to die a natural death to become human again.

xxxHOLIC is a series from the all female manga team CLAMP that is pretty interesting. It crosses over with Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, and has cameos from many of CLAMP's other series.

______________________________________

Most of the books should have age ratings on them, however that is based more on violence and sexual content, instead of the original target audience in Japan. Just as there may be some G and PG movies that are targeted towards adults (or R movies that are targeted towards kids,) these books had target audiences ranging from elementary school boys to housewives, to salarymen (salaried workers,) to OLs (office ladies) to high school and college males, etc.

______________________________________

Sho(u)nen means boy, and by itself means books aimed primarily at elementary and middle school boys.
Sho(u)jo means girl, and is aimed at girls, although there are many male readers (especially in America.)
Bi-shounen isn't really a genre (afaik) but it refers to beautiful men (usually straight.) Think Johnny Depp, with long flowing hair.
Bi-shoujo means beautiful girl (although I don't know what the difference is between this and regular shoujo.)
Ecchi (pronounciation of the letter "H") usually means jiggling boobs and panty shots in America, although there really isn't a difference between ecchi and hentai in Japan.
Hentai is used in America for full blown graphic sex.
Shounen-Ai means Boy's Love (BL), which is male-male relationships, although the target audience may be female more than male. This (usually) focuses on the relationship instead of the sweaty stuff.
Shoujo-Ai is the same, but with girl-girl.
Yaoi is more explicit male-male material.
Yuri is explicit female-female material.
Old 09-03-05, 03:19 AM
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Figured I'd post my two cents.

Judging from the lines from the pic, it looks like you the visual style that would appeal to you most are the shounen style manga. They're those long titles that real focus on the fighting and rules of fighting. Oh Great!'s Tenjou Tenge could be a good fit. DC/CMX has made a lot of changes/censors that left a lot of manga readers disgruntled.

My one recommendation would be Vagabond published by Viz. It's about the samurai Miyamato Musashi and how he became who he is. The series is by Takehiko Inuoe, of Slam Dunk fame and manages (to me, at least) to continue pushing the story and developing the characters even after 20 volumes.

Oh yeah, and the art is beautiful.

EDIT: I really liked Blade of the Immortal, but later on the art seems to get very sketchy and borders on ugly. There are tons of short scratch lines used to draw figures and I wonder if the manga-ka is rushed or it's a stylistic choice.

Berserk is a fun read, but it doesn't get really good until the later volumes (past the ending point of the anime). It's amazing how Gatts changes throughout the series.

Last edited by vinhj; 09-03-05 at 03:24 AM.
Old 09-04-05, 09:53 PM
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Someone needs to mention Love Hina. I've been a fan of comics for most of my life, and Love Hina is one of the single BEST comic book series of all time, in my opinion. And it's got plenty of tit-illation.
Old 09-04-05, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by fujishig

If Crying Freeman or Sanctuary are still easily found, those are great stories with great art as well. Definitely very adult. The artist also did Mai the Psychic Girl, which is also pretty good.

I haven't read a huge amount of manga, but I would definitely second the recommendation for the above two, especially Sanctuary. Very serious, dramatic and realistic (both art and story). If you are at all interested in Japanese politics and yakuza, it's a must read (after I tried the first volume, I was hooked, and bought the other 8 books soon after). Crying Freeman is by the same artist, but different writer, and is less realistic, but still a good drama. (and both have a fair share of sexual activity too, but the naughty parts are censored).
Old 09-06-05, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by ben12
Someone needs to mention Love Hina. I've been a fan of comics for most of my life, and Love Hina is one of the single BEST comic book series of all time, in my opinion. And it's got plenty of tit-illation.
Love Hina was pretty fun in the beginning, but towards the end it began to feel like just any another 'harem' series and felt like any other one. Still a nice series if you're into that kind of stuff.
Old 09-06-05, 07:57 AM
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I took a look at a few books over the weekend. I liked the art to Love Hina. I really liked the look of Tenjho Tenga, but the edits in Vol. 2 were ghastly. Anyone know if they plan to re-release these unedited?

There were some other nice looking books, too, but man, am I ready to take on a series that has 10, 14, or 18 volumes? Might take awhile.
Old 09-06-05, 08:34 AM
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I miss Raijin Comics
Old 09-06-05, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by James W. Powell
I took a look at a few books over the weekend. I liked the art to Love Hina. I really liked the look of Tenjho Tenga, but the edits in Vol. 2 were ghastly. Anyone know if they plan to re-release these unedited?

There were some other nice looking books, too, but man, am I ready to take on a series that has 10, 14, or 18 volumes? Might take awhile.
Luckily, volumes usually read like Bendis comics.
Old 09-06-05, 08:48 PM
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Azumanga Daioh and Negima! are my two favorites. Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicle is also very good.

Of course, this is yet another one of those anime/manga threads where I say that the best stuff isn't yet available in the US (like Ichigo Mashimaro and such). But that's still another story.
Old 09-06-05, 11:47 PM
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I am not much into manga, but the two series I am collecting are Lone Wolf and Cub and Samurai Executioner, both highly recommended by me.
Old 09-07-05, 03:21 AM
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I have the full series of Akira comic books, a very entertaining read and very good art work.
Old 09-09-05, 07:48 AM
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Anyone read THE MONKEY KING, which came out from Dark Horse yesterday? It was hard to follow at first, but damn, that art was impressive. Too bad it'll be years before we see vol. 2.
Old 09-09-05, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by outer-edge
I am not much into manga, but the two series I am collecting are Lone Wolf and Cub and Samurai Executioner, both highly recommended by me.
Same here.

I'm fairly certain that Vol. 5 of "Samurai Executioner" comes out next week along with the first volume of "Lady Snowblood" (which I also plan on picking up).
Old 09-09-05, 11:51 AM
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Just a head's up, rightstuf.com has a sale on all Viz items:

From now until 9/18, get 40% OFF Retail price on all Viz VHS and DVDs
and 33% OFF Retail price on all Viz Books!* I'd recommend you get in the spirit
of the season with manga like Eyeshield 21, but of course there's always
favorites like Fullmetal Alchemist and Bleach that you don't wanna miss out on
either!

How? Just use the following reusable coupon code when you check out through our
online store:

Coupon Code: kickoff
Expires: 9/18/05

Plus, if you're a Got Anime Member, you can use your membership and score some
even greater savings!


So 33% off manga, and an extra 10% off that if you have a GA membership. Admittedly, it's a better deal for anime, but 33% off isn't bad, and TRSI is a great place to shop. Free shipping over a certain threshold (used to be 100, but I think it's been lowered to 50 or so). They ship partial orders as well. Even if you don't like the shonen jump stuff, Viz publishes a ton of things, and I highly, highly recommend Video Girl Ai and Nausicaa, at the very least (not sure if Crying Freeman and Sanctuary are still in print, but if they are, those too). Check it out at the local bookstore to see what it's like before you order, though.
Old 09-09-05, 12:02 PM
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Say, would anyone of you manga fans be interested in writing for my site? I've been wanting to get someone to review manga for sometime. If you like writing and like reading manga, shoot me an email.
Old 09-17-05, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by ben12
Someone needs to mention Love Hina. I've been a fan of comics for most of my life, and Love Hina is one of the single BEST comic book series of all time, in my opinion. And it's got plenty of tit-illation.
I agree. Love Hina is very entertaining to read. And the Love Hina Anime is great too! It's one of my favorite series.
Old 09-18-05, 01:35 AM
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If you get nausicaa get the viz smaller size ones. They are much better reads and cheaper then the new printed ones.

Akira is awesome but it's like a 60 dollar investment. Unless you can get them for cheaper.

Planetes was recommended to me by dvdtalk and it was a great read.

Also the hardcover barnes and noble akira is like for 6 bucks at barnesandnoble.com. I don't know if it's worth it because it doesn't match the other volumes and it doesn't look like their going to make others.

And i've heard berserk is good, but I haven't read it personally.
Old 09-19-05, 06:21 PM
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So I know absolutely nothing about these. So can anyone give me the absolute basics. Kind of how you would explian them to, lets say, your parents. Please start by explaining why it looks like people read the backwords?

Thanks!
Old 09-19-05, 09:11 PM
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Manga is the Japanese term for what we would call comicbooks. So the manga we talk about here are Japanese comics translated, adapted, and sold in the American marketplace.

In the US, we read words from left to right... both sentences and pages flow this way. Japanese words are written from top to bottom, and right to left. Because of this, Japanese comics are drawn to flow from panel to panel from right to left. For many, many years, manga brought over here was "flipped"... the original images were mirrored and the pages were reordered to read from left to right... you still see this with some older Viz titles like Ranma or Inuyasha. Blade of the Immortal is unique in that it reads left to right, and is occasionally flipped, but for the most part Dark Horse cuts up the individual panels and reorders them to read from left to right, so as not to disturb the artwork. Most stuff that comes out now are unflipped, and read right to left, which may take some getting used to for most American readers. In addition, some titles redraw the Japanese sound effects in the panels, and others just have footnotes in the back translating the sound effects.

Manga in the US is usually sold in collected form: small, relatively cheap graphic novels, instead of first being printed in the "pamphlet" format of American comics. While in America, comics are a niche market, in Japan, manga is a hugely popular hobby of people of all ages. This contributes to the sheer variety of manga, whereas the vast majority of American comics are focused at least in some part on superheroes (the manga we get here is not always as varied, but it has improved vastly in recent years). Most are published in weekly anthologies... huge phonebook-sized volumes containing around 10-15 pages each of various manga, usually split up into different audience genres. (Viz has recently emulated this with their monthly Shonen Jump magazine, though it is about a fourth of the size of the real, Japanese shonen jump). Because it is printed on cheap, multicolored paper, the cost of these volumes is minimal... usually less than five bucks, with some magazine-like color pages in the front. Later, if the comic is popular enough and lasts long enough, these stories are collected into tankoubans, little graphic novels, and this is the format the manga market here has emulated.

Usually, by the time a manga comes out here, it has already been running for a long time in Japan. This gives the American publisher a significant backlog of material... and this is why manga releases are rarely late, and why huge volumes can come out every two months or so... it's just an adaptation/translation after all (when a title is popular enough to come out before it's finished, or a release catches up to the Japanese release, we have to wait the two months or so the Japanese usually have to wait between releases). This also may be why it can be sold for so much cheaper than it's American counterparts, even without first being published in regular comicbook format, subsidized by advertisements. The downside is that there's SO much coming out now that the market is pretty flooded. In my opinion, the relatively cheap price per page, the book-like format and the sheer variety of material (even stuff that attracts female readers!) are parts of the reason why manga has become so popular in US bookstores.

Mangaka, or manga artists, also differ from American artists in pretty significant ways. Because manga are generally printed in black and white (sometimes those who buy the weekly compilations get pages in color, but these are usually not reprinted in tankoubans), there are few colorists. The mangaka has assistants who do everything from backgrounds to side character designs to different parts of entire manga (this is usually how they start out, as a member of a team). They are usually uncredited. There is no credited inker, though an assistant may fill that role... a lot of zippatone is used for shading. They need these assistants, though, because most have installments that come out EVERY WEEK. If a manga is not popular with the readers (they have reader polls every few months) it starts creeping towards the back of the anthologies and may disappear altogether, with a rushed finish. If a mangaka is significantly established (like Rumiko Takahashi, for instance) they can do what they want. Most must work with editors to tweak their storylines and even character designs. The format is why a lot of especially the stories for younger readers are jampacked with action and few words... they need to entertain week after week in 10 or so pages, and keep the reader coming back for more.

So manga in the US are basically comics that have debuted in Japan and are translated and published here. Sometimes, people will (IMHO) misuse the term because of it's popularity. Some are actually comics from Korea or China (manwha or manhua respectively). Others are non Japanese who study Japanese manga art. Not that some of these aren't decent (for instance, I have alway's loved Ben Dunn's Ninja High School and Fred Perry's Gold digger, I like the Korean Ragnorak, and I'm very disappointed that ComicsOne stopped publishing Stormriders). And because manga is just the Japanese term for comics, technically, all comics are "manga." But I for the most common interpretation, manga are comics from Japan.

Last edited by fujishig; 09-19-05 at 09:38 PM.
Old 09-21-05, 08:04 PM
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Wow, thanks for the great summary

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