In my last post, I mentioned that there were some manga I was excited to share with you all. Since nothing else took my attention this time around, let’s talk about them.
I should note that I haven’t yet read a lot of manga – I really enjoyed Ranma 1/2 when I was just getting into comics, but that was nearly 25 years ago, when the selection of good translations in America weren’t as plentiful as they are now. Additionally, there are SO many manga, in every genre you can imagine. Separating the wheat from the chaff, or even just what stories might be interesting to you in particular, can be a daunting task. Luckily, there are folks out there who can help. Comicazi has a manga book club – I learned about one of these titles from their list. Another I learned about from my pal Morgana, who is the manga maven at Comicopia, a store with a great selection of manga. The last was given to me by my husband, who thought it just looked up my alley. So here are my three picks – don’t be afraid to ask your local shop for other suggestions!
Assassination Classroom by Yūsei Matsui:
A nearly unkillable, unstoppable monster destroys 70% of Earth’s moon, and threatens to do the same to the Earth within a year – unless someone can kill him first. In an added twist, he wants to teach both regular courses and assassination techniques to a classroom of students at Kunugigaoka Junior High School – class 3E, the “end class.” These are the worst students in the school, put in end class for failing their courses or generally causing trouble at school. But as they start getting classes from the monster, whom they name Koro Sensei, they discover their hidden talents for both academics and assassination. Will the class be able to kill him by the deadline? Moreover, will they want to?
Assassination Classroom is a science-fiction comedy, with a touch of real emotion as the story progresses and you learn the back stories of each of the characters, including the mysterious Koro Sensei. Where did he come from? Why does he want to blow up the Earth? More importantly – why does he want to teach a bunch of hopeless junior high kids? And what the heck is up with his tentacles?
There’s something very charming about Koro Sensei’s simple, octopus-like design, and despite the goofy humor, I found myself truly invested in the characters and their fates. Even better, the story is already all wrapped up in Japan, meaning an actual resolution to the mystery will come.
My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi:
In a world where nearly everyone has superpowers, Izuku Midoriya is doubly unlucky – he has no power to speak of, and yet he has the heart of a hero. His dream is to attend U.A. High School, the training academy for the greatest heroes, those with the best powers, known as Quirks. When he saves his middle school rival from a villain, Izuku is noticed by the number-one hero, All-Might, who shares both his deepest secrets and his Quirk, “One for All” with Izuku. With his newly found powers, can Izuku prove that he has what it takes to be a real hero?
Like Assassination Classroom, My Hero Academia is a school-based comedy, with a great, fascinating cast of characters. Kohei Horikoshi, the creator, has some wild ideas for superpowers – there’s a character who shoots cellophane tape out of his arms, another who can create any inorganic object – as long as she knows its molecular structure, and one who shoots lasers from his navel. Each power also comes with attendant weaknesses – some characters have superstrength, but suffer temporary loss of intelligence when they utilize it, for example. It’s a classic coming of age tale, wherein the characters learn the difference between having brute power and the having the wisdom and kindness to use it correctly, but the power twists and snappy dialogue make it feel totally fresh.
The Girl From the Other Side by Nagabe:
Deep in the woods near an abandoned village, a little girl named Shiva lives with a strange, goat-like man she calls Teacher. Teacher is very tall and dark and seems to love Shiva dearly – but warns her never to touch him, for fear she become “cursed” like he is. At first it seems like they’re alone in the woods, but as the story progresses it’s clear that all is not as it seems – and everyone, human and inhuman alike – want Shiva. What is special about her, and will she save humanity or bring about its end?
The art in this book is exceptionally beautiful – the design of Teacher in particular is complex and stunning. The deep black and white illustrations provide an eerie moodiness that contrast with the sweet gentleness of Shiva and her life with teacher. This is a sweet, haunting fairy tale that has just begun – and I can’t wait to see where it’s going.
Do you read manga? What series do you recommend? I’d love for you to tell me all about it – either in the comics or in two weeks at LadiesCon!