Cute girls are what I look for in manga.
When I originally applied to Metanorn, I had the hope of making a lot of manga posts to plug all of the awesome series that I love. Obviously, I haven’t actually done that, but after some subtle prodding from Kyokai (eg. “You should do a manga post”) I decided to get off my lazy ass and make it happen. I definitely read way more manga than the average person here, and having too much time on my hands is not the reason why. While it’s sometimes fresh to read the manga that an anime was based off of, it’s rare that I’ll bother to take the time to read the same story multiple times. Nor will I recommend any manga to you here if the anime has already been covered. There are cases where I’ll get so attached to characters that I think it’s worth it (eg. Bungaku Shoujo), but the real reason that I want you guys to read manga is more obvious. There is just way more manga out there than there is anime, and there are many great series that never make it to TV. If you don’t dive into the world of manga, you are missing out. But you knew that, right?
Hoshi’s been doing a great job with her recommendations, and you should definitely check out her posts if you haven’t already. I particularly like the dark series that she highlights because that’s the kind of stuff I’m into, and I’m actually going to pretty much copy her format here. What I want to do right now, though, is twofold. First, I want to provide a guy’s perspective on manga. Yeah, guys, we can’t let the manga section get dominated by girls. So far it’s been kanzeon, Ryuuko, and Hoshi. Incidentally, I think my tastes actually match pretty closely with kanzeon’s, but eww she has cooties. It’s time to add some testosterone to the mix. Second, I am going to try to focus on series that are easy to get into. I promise you that they will have good art, great stories, and less than 453891 chapters. Pinky promise.
While I’m tempted to spam you all with horror manga, that might not be the best way to suck you guys in. Also, the best ones have already been covered, but that’s just a minor detail. My theme today is going to be “pleasing art.” They aren’t necessarily the most detailed artwork, but, to me, they’re all very fun to look at. Nothing will ever bother you about the way these manga are drawn. I love the stories, too, but top notch art is the most important factor to me for a first impression, so I won’t expect anything less from your critical eyes.
Tasogare Otome X Amnesia
Genre(s): mystery, supernatural, horror, school life, romance
Summary: A young woman, by some strange occurrence, was left to die alone in the former building of the Academy for Sincere Teachings. Mysteriously, there is one person who can see her in ghost form: Niiya Teiichi, a freshman. Now they both seek to find out the reasoning behind her death, and what could have caused it.
Thoughts: Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to spam you with horror manga, but trust me on this, this series is AMAZING. While I initially got into the series because of the horror tag, the only horror about it is that the female lead is a ghost. No gore, no blood (not much, if any), nothing really scary. The series carries on like a school life supernatural mystery, where Teiichi is trying to learn about Yuuko’s (the ghost) death by investigating the ghost stories and rumors that make their way around the school. The chapters start from 0, which is usually a one-shot, but in this case it’s actually the beginning of the story. Right off the bat, Teiichi gets drafted into Yuuko’s spontaneously created, unofficial Paranormal Investigations Club. This sets the scene for the rest of the series, and they waste no time getting right to work on the first mystery, introduced in chapter 0. The story doesn’t move slowly in any way, likely because this is a monthly publication. Unfortunately, this also means that we only get one chapter a month… because it’s monthly.
My favorite part about this series, besides the art, is the way Teiichi and Yuuko interact. Yuuko pretty much acts like any normal girl, aside from being unusually bold towards Teiichi, and she takes every chance she can to play jokes on Teiichi or make him uncomfortable. If you think about the loneliness that she must have experienced during her time as a ghost, and you can understand why she can’t help but mess around with Teiichi. And these silly moments are mingled within a more serious question, the answer of which seems to be getting closer and closer, yet always just out of reach: why is Yuuko here? This question hangs above everything the two investigate, but each story arc is unique and interesting enough that you sometimes forget about it until it’s over.
Guys, this is my favorite ongoing manga by a huge margin. If you only ever read one thing that I recommend, let it be Tasogare Otome X Amnesia – The Twilight Maiden of Amnesia.
Author: Hattori Mitsuru
Genre(s): comedy, ecchi, romance, supernatural
Summary: Furuya’s obsessed with zombies. He collects any figurines, watches any movie, and plays any game with the living dead, and is even only interested in zombie girls. When his cat dies, Furuya begins trying to raise it from the dead using an ancient book of the occult he bought from a shop. But what will happen when he sees the idol of a nearby all girl’s school walking close to where he conducts his experiment, wishing to die and be reborn as a different person?
Thoughts: I thought this series was originally tagged with the horror genre, but it seems to have vanished. No matter, though, as it’s not really a horror manga anyway. The summary isn’t entirely accurate, as it makes it sound like the eponymous heroine Sanka Rea is suicidal or something, but I won’t spoil the details for you. I will say that, like in Tasogare Otome, the story picks up very quickly in the first three chapters, so it never feels like there’s a lull in the story or anything like that. Again, I think that’s the double-edged sword of monthly publications.
It’s hard for me to write about this manga without spoiling a lot of details, so I’ll just point out that this is not a gag manga or lovey-dovey romance. Nor is it a harem or, despite having the ecchi tag, excessively fanservicey. It actually deals with some fairly serious issues, where Furuya has to play a sort of unlikely, plain guardian, while throwing in jokes and romance whenever the opportunity arises. Furuya himself is a hilarious character – he’s a wisecracking zombie otaku with a sincere side. While he’s somewhat clueless about girls, he’s also not an indecisive idiot. Furuya’s resolve is one of the things that keeps driving the story forward instead of degrading into a pointless love comedy.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai
Author: Hirasaka Yomi
Genre(s): comedy, romance, school life
Summary: Hasegawa Kodaka has transferred schools, and he’s having a hard time making friends. It doesn’t help that his blond hair tends to make people think he’s a delinquent. One day, he runs into his bad-tempered solitary classmate Yozora while she’s talking animatedly to her imaginary friend Tomo. Realizing that neither of them have any actual friends, they decide that the best way to alter this situation is to form a club and start recruiting.
That is how “Rinjinbu” was formed, a club specifically designed for people who don’t have very many friends. As other lonely classmates slowly join their little club, they’ll try to learn how to build friendships through cooking together, playing games, and other group activities. But will this group of relationship-challenged misfits really be able to get along?
Thoughts: This is a manga based off of the light novel with the same name. I think the premise itself is pretty cute. The title means “I don’t have many friends,” and they’re literally making a club focused on making friends. While it kind of sounds like one of those self-help seminars designed to “empower” you, keep in mind that none of these people actually have friends. They have no idea what they should do, and their ideas on how to make friends are totally warped. It’s basically the blind leading the blind, and the results are hilarious.
Each character has this glaring character trait that completely explains why they don’t have friends. It differs from person to person, but they range from being pretty realistic to downright ridiculous. And, when you put them all together, you get a lot of amusing interactions between the members. The story isn’t very far yet, though, so only a few of the club members have been introduced after the prologue. These club members are pretty funny in their own right, but I’m hoping to see new ones joining soon. Overall, the atmosphere is light and humorous, though sometimes you can get a glimpse into the characters’ hearts. It really is lonely to have no friends, even if you tell yourself that it’s okay. Yozora is a particularly poignant character to me because, despite her nasty attitude (and I mean NASTY), she’s well aware of her ineptness at relationships and wishes she could, well, make friends.
All of these series are relatively recent and short, so they are easy to catch up on. Tasogare Amnesia is the longest, and I expect it’d take someone around 1-2 hours to read through all of the chapters so far. If you’ve been put off on reading manga because of the sheer number of chapters to go through, now’s your chance to jump into good series without committing a massive amount of time getting yourself up to speed on the chapters. I really hope you all consider it!