Yoruko’s 5 Summer Picks, aka 5 Manga You Should Read

August 11, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Posted in Anime & Manga | Leave a comment

Since I mentioned that manga was keeping me from posting, I suppose I should post about those manga. I’ve holed myself up in my little room this summer reading various random series – sometimes by friend recommendation, other times by whim.

Here are Yoruko’s manga picks for this summer and why you should read these five varying series for varying reasons. :)

Saa, ikimashou~!

Going in alphabetical order once again~

1) Ai Kora by Inoue Kazurou

the gist:
Most guys like to ogle hot girls, but Maeda Hachibei prefers individual parts on said hot girls. It just so happens that the boys’ dormitory at his new high school burns down and he is ‘forced’ to stay in the girls’ dorm and live with four girls that each have one of his ideal parts…

why it’s epic win: unique, interesting premise for a harem. Like the standard harem but with twice the humor and half the fanservice…so caters to bigger crowd. Good characters too – Hachibei may seem like the typical pervy loser at first, but at least he turns out to be a good person instead of the cliche douchebag who gets all the girls. We’ve got our tsunderes in Tenmaku of the blue eyes and Ootori of the husky voice, but you gotta love a few cliches here and there…

for fans of: I guess the closest I can think of is Love Hina. Then again, I recommend this series to people who want to read a harem and get a good laugh without being drowned by excessive upskirt shots and boobs and even those moments are merely parodied instead of sexualized.

2) Bakuman by Ohba Tsugumi & Obata Takeshi

the gist: Two high school students, Moritaka Mashiro (a talented artist) and Takagi Akito (an innovative creative writer) aspire to be mangaka and team up to make their dream come true.  Along the way, Mashiro makes a promise with the Azuki Miho, the girl he loves, saying that he will marry her when he succeeds in landing an anime for his manga. Azuki returns his feelings and agrees on the condition that they must not meet again until that day comes.

why it’s epic win: some will say it’s only because the creators of Death Note collaborated again. Wrong. It’s because Bakuman is more than just a story about two kids making a manga. To quote a friend,  “it is a combination of innocent love, ridiculous interactions between characters, friendship, growing up, lessons learned in life, unfortunate events (cannot be called tragedies since its not overdone…but done just right), determination, hardships, and add a little humor to it all. … it’s nice. That’s really all there is to it.”

for fans of: not, I repeat, NOT Death Note unless you were in love with the series for its art style. Bakuman is unique in its own right, though I imagine slice-of-lifers would enjoy it. Even those who find slice-of-life series boring might want to give it a go; Bakuman will not disappoint.

3) Pandora Hearts by Mochizuki Jun

the gist: Rich young noble Oz Vessalius leads a carefree life until his coming of age ceremony in which he is dragged into the Abyss for his sin of ‘existence’. He makes a contract with Alice, a being called a Chain that inhabits the Abyss, and makes his way back to his own world, only to set off on a quest for Alice’s missing memories and be drafted by an organization called Pandora that researches these Chains.

why it’s epic win: Pandora Hearts walks the fine balance between many elements – it’s gloomy without being overly sinister, it keeps you guessing without getting too confused, it has pretty art without degrading into a bishounen fest. It’s got time travel, a mysterious pocket watch, parallel world identities, a strange man in the shadows, missing memories – sounds like a mix of fantasy cliches, doesn’t it? Pandora Hearts takes old ingredients and cooks up a new course.

for fans of: dark fantasy series with intricate storytelling. Kuroshitsuji lovers might like this as well due to the servant-master dynamic between two of the characters. Oh, and I forgot to mention…Alice in Wonderland aficionados are bound to smile since Pandora Hearts uses many references from that story.

4) Paradise Kiss by Yazawa Ai

the gist: Yukari’s life as always been about getting into a top university. Her life does a complete turnover when some avant-garde fashion school students declare her the perfect model for their spring show!

why it’s epic win: well, the art for one…since it’s a manga about modeling and fashion. But the main focus is the drama – the struggles of the group as they try to realize their impossible dreams, the dysfunctional relationship between Yukari and George, the chaotic emotions and hidden pasts they have to deal with – and look good while doing so too. And through all this, Paradise Kiss manages to be surprisingly realistic in its interpersonal relationships.

for fans of: NANA, one of Yazawa Ai’s other mangas. Paradise Kiss is basically like NANA with fashion instead of music and is more toned down so as not to overwhelm the reader with deaths, overblown emotional crises, etc. I think people who would like to read a harsher, less flight-of-fancy, devoid of excessive sparkles, story-driven shoujo manga will appreciate this series.

5) Tegami Bachi by Asada Hiroyuki

the gist: In the world of Amberground where the only light is an artificial sun and the social classes are divided by proximity to the sun, Letter Bees are entrusted with delivering precious ‘Heart’ in the form of letters. Lag Seeing, a Letter Bee, is out to find a fellow Letter Bee who has gone missing – the one who saved his life and inspired him to become one in the first place…

why it’s epic win: originality. The premise was the huge winner for me.  I had thought it would fizzle out after the initial shock, but the mangaka has brought it out to its full potential. The gloomy world of Amberground is well crafted, and despite being uniform governmental employees, each Letter Bee is characterized individually and given depth. Despite the generally depressing mood, the mangaka manages to provide quirky comic relief that reminds us to smile – one example is a strange little pet named, of all things, Steak…oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the art style is easy on the eye as well.

for fans of: D.Gray-man, I suppose? Tegami Bachi feels like a less apocalyptic,  yet still filled with hidden motives, substituting letter bees and Heart  for exorcists and Innocence, starring a more emotional, naive, and younger white-haired protagonist…version of D.Gray-man. Another pick for fantasy lovers looking for something new to sink their bored little eyes into.


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