They were eaten by the Big Bad Wolf.
Manga is a business. If you’ve ever read or watched Bakuman, which you better have, you should know this all too well. It’s hard to make it into a magazine, and it’s even harder to stick around long enough to support yourself. Good and not-so-good series come and go all the time (the bad ones don’t even make the first cut), and sometimes it’s painful to see your favorite series end prematurely. Manga differs from anime in that anime never gets cancelled mid-run. Once an anime starts, you can expect all of the episodes to air. Whether or not it gets a second season is another story, but regardless, you know when the anime will start and when it will finish. Sometimes it’s a tear-jerking ending, sometimes it’s a climactic finale, and sometimes it’s an annoying open-ended ending, but they all proceed as expected. The same isn’t necessarily true for manga. If a manga does badly enough on rankings and gets cut, the author has 3-4 chapters to finish things up. What if they’re in the middle of something big? What if the manga hasn’t even gotten a chance to really touch the surface of the story yet? Too bad, it’s over. It’s time to get out of the way and make room for something new. And the cries of upset fans are heard across the universe.
While I don’t really agree with the ranking system, as far my limited knowledge goes from reading Bakuman, there is really not a whole lot we can do about cancelled series. I don’t live in Japan, and even if I did, it’s rare to see cancelled (or even voluntarily ended) series ever get revived. Especially since the manga business is so big in Japan, it’s understandable that magazines need to be efficient in their selection to make sure everything with potential gets a test ride. It just sucks that it’s not necessarily being “bad” that gets you cancelled – it’s “losing to others.” So, today I’m dedicating this post to great manga series that had their lives cut short by this unfortunate disaster. As always, I’m picking out series that have good art and stories (according to me, of course), but due to the nature of this post, I regret to admit that these series have rushed and unsatisfying endings. They were all, in my opinion, great series worthy of long runs, but they lost the ranking game. Curse you, Jump!
Author: Komi Naoshi
Genre(s): action, adventure, comedy, fantasy
Summary: A boy and a girl are forced to join hands for all eternity!? In a land ravaged by an epidemic known as “Troy”, the only people with healing arts capable of stopping the seizures caused by the disease are the Sisters. Although they have a high resistance to the disease, they are searching for a person who is truly immune, so that they can find a cure. The main character is Sister Elraine, one of the Sisters who becomes infected with Troy. But, when she touches Kiri, a seemingly ordinary boy, her seizures stop. Could he be the one!?
Thoughts: The summary isn’t very clear, but this is basically your run-of-the-mill fantasy setting adventure shounen manga. Now, that doesn’t sound particularly special, especially since that’s basically like 50% of what prints in Jump, but think about it. For the entire series, Elle and Kiri have to hold hands at all times. Think about how many situations you could get into from that detail alone. Fantasy setting aside, a holding-hands adventure is pretty much a romantic comedy automatically. Throwing in the fact that Elle’s life depends on this makes for some intense moments.
Out of the three series that I’m presenting today, Double Arts is by far my favorite. It has the standard battle manga feel, but the unique situation that the two protagonists are in just makes everything they do, from taking a shower to fighting off the bad guys, incredibly interesting and jaw dropping. And man, the fight scenes! Elle and Kiri can kick some serious tail without ever letting go, even though Elle isn’t really a fighter – she fits more into the priestess archetype. The title “Double Arts” refers to their partnered fighting style, and it’s quite a refreshing thing to see, especially since there aren’t really any “super moves” in this series. The characters themselves also have their own draw to them. Part of the reason I like having male protagonists, and I assume it’s the same reason shoujo mangas have female protagonists, is because subconsciously I like to put myself in his shoes. And Kiri is a pretty impressive character – he’s agile, skillful, and although he’s not particularly strong, his special power basically facilitates teamwork. Meanwhile, Elle is really cool, compassionate, selfless character that I’m sure the female audience wouldn’t mind trading places with. To top it all off, there’s pretty much no fanservice at all here. Enjoyable for all audiences, I’d say.
I have one warning, though. If you decide to read through this series, which is fairly short, I guarantee you will have this reaction at the last chapter. The series gets cancelled right when it starts getting awesome, which is the worst news since Shrek 4.
By the way, Komi Naoshi’s works are AMAZING. He has several one shots, my favorite one being “Island.” They’re all very creative and fun, and I think they’re all worthy of their own series. Also, he’s scheduled to begin a new series this August called Nisekoi.
Author: Tsuchida Kenta
Genre(s): action, comedy, martial arts, romance, school life
Summary: Utsuru Sanada is a professional photographer at the age of 17, he can guess the exact 3 sizes of any girl, he can memorize anything he sees, and he can counterattack karate moves (most guys would want these abilities). Why? Because he has superb photographic memory called “Shutter Eye” (as in the shutter of a camera). He meets Niko Kurihara, the female protagonist, who dislikes men, is a master of martial arts, and is of course beautiful. Utsuru attempts to prove to Niko that he is not the guy she thinks he is so that he can take a picture of her. He starts by investigating Niko’s friend’s date, who appears to be a deceptive guy according to rumors…
Thoughts: That’s right, Shutter Eye is basically Sharingan, and he covers his Shutter Eye with an eyepatch when he’s not using it, just like a certain other character we know. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily make his ability less interesting, as some of the best parts of the series are when Sanada takes the eyepatch off and starts owning face. However, Lock On comes off more as a school life/romance manga with action/martial arts mixed in, rather than the other way around. This isn’t necessarily bad, but if you aren’t terribly interested in various typical school club activities and a tsundere semi-love interest, you probably won’t enjoy the majority of this series.
This is actually my least favorite series out of the three here, but I don’t mean that it’s a bad series. Naturally, there will always be a “least favorite.” It was entertaining enough as a school life plus action series that I followed it from its inception as a one shot all the way until its cancellation. I’m not actually a big fan of school life romances unless something wild is mixed in, but since the series didn’t live very long, Lock On didn’t suffer the typical dry spell of interesting material that most romances experience (another school festival arc?). Plus, the big theme here is obviously photography, which is pretty unique in itself. Sanada starts sounding like a broken record with his “I want take pictures of beautiful things” speech, but a photographer protagonist is relatively fresh in itself.
Anyway, this series isn’t good enough to for me to aggressively push it onto you (by the way, read Double Arts), but it’s worth a look if you like romances. Also, fun fact: after cancellation, this series was replaced by SWOT, which also got cancelled pretty recently. About the same run length, too. Authors just can’t get a break!
Kiben Gakuha, Yotsuya Senpai no Kaidan
Author: Furudate Haruichi
Genre(s): drama, horror, mystery, psychological, school life
Summary: In the midst of a female-kidnapping serial killer incident, Makoto’s best friend Hinano has vanished completely. Desperate to find her before it’s too late, Makoto will try anything – even invoking the resident phantom student of her middle school, Yotsuya-sempai!
Surprisingly, Yotsuya-sempai appears to be an actual person. He’s obsessed with creating the scariest stories ever, using the people and situations in Makoto’s middle school to stage them. Though Yotsuya is mostly just interested making scary stories, Makoto finds that his stories tend to contain a kernel of truth and that they can reveal their terrible truth in the telling. But as Makoto helps Yotsuya stage his tales, can she convince him to tell the story of the whereabouts of her best friend?
Thoughts: Did you read the summary? How is that not the best story ever? Yotsuya is this creepy senpai at school who never attends class and loves horror stories even more than I do. So what does he do when Makoto comes crying to him? He uses horror stories to screw with the bad guys. If you’re read up on Bakuman, think Detective Trap, but using fright instead of cons. Who needs evidence when you can just scare them into submission? And that’s exactly what Yotsuya does – when he’s finished, not only have criminals confessed to their misdeeds, but they’re also lying on the floor in the fetal position crying for their mommies.
Yotsuya and Makoto are two of my favorite characters, like, ever. Yotsuya’s horror story obsession is like mine, but better. It’s like when Keima says, “I can see the ending!” but instead of figuring out the route, Yotsuya has just devised the perfect story to scare the hell out of his opponent. Plus, his eerily powerful authority makes everyone, including teachers, cower and obey him. He’s like a freaking crazy mastermind that nobody wants to oppose, playing with his food. Meanwhile, Makoto is your resident idiot. Put the two of them together and you get hilarious interactions. Even Yotsuya has his “wtf?” moments around Makoto.
The series setting is somewhat similar to Tasogare Otome x Amnesia in that they both involve the seven mysteries of the school. They have wildly different approaches, though. Tasogare is more of a genuine mystery, unraveling Yuuko’s past, while Kiben Gakuha ends up being a whole lot of ass kicking, storyteller style. Regardless of the differences, if you liked Tasogare, I’ll bet that you’ll like Kiben Gakuha, Yotsuya Senpai, too.
This post is now as finished as these series.
That made me cry a little inside. Hope you guys check them out, they’re all short (*sob*).