Thursday, December 04, 2014

best of 2014: manga and graphic novels

It's time to reveal my picks for the best manga and graphic novels of 2014!  The usual notes before I continue:
  • This list is in preferential order.  (Hey, it was easy with only 5 titles to choose from!)
  • All of these are commercially available in the US.
  • I doubt anyone still thinks manga and graphic novels are strictly kids' stuff, but just in case, I've added content warnings where applicable.
  • And, as ever, your mileage may vary.

1. Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky:  This graphic novel about people who can stop time when they have an orgasm is pretty goddamn good and you should read it.  One of my favorite things about it is the little details in the background, like a poster in a porn store that shows a woman staring forlornly at the camera.  The title of the movie is Not the Life That I Anticipated, But Here I Am I Guess.   (Strong sexual content and language)

2. Say I Love You by Kanae Hazuki:  After a betrayal by her friends, Mei Tachibana has cut herself off from others completely.  But after she accidentally kicks the most popular boy at school, he becomes interested in her and decides to pull her out of her shell.  Very touching and funny; the prickly protagonist reminded me of Tsukushi Makino from Boys Over Flowers.  (Mild sexual innuendo)

3. My Love Story!! by Kazune Kawahara and Aruko:  Takeo Goda is a gigantic teenage boy with the proverbial heart of gold.  One day, he rescues a girl from a sexual harasser on the train, and she's immediately smitten with him.  But clueless Takeo completely misreads her signals and thinks she's actually in love with his gorgeous best friend.  It's really charming, and I love the fact that Takeo isn't your typical shojo hero.  (Nothing objectionable that I'm remembering offhand)

4. Attack on Titan: Junior High by Saki Nakagawa:  This spinoff of the enormously popular Attack on Titan manga/anime is incredibly funny, thanks to some brilliant creative license by the translation team.  (Just one example: a character mistakes a foreign man for Brad Pitt and, taking umbrage at something the man does, cries out "What would Zahara and Maddox Chivan say?  To say nothing of my mom!  She'll remove her Tumblr fanpage when she finds out!")  The original is unrelentingly grim, so it's fun to see a more humorous take on the series.  (Language, innuendo, some cartoony violence)

5. What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga:  A delightful slice of life manga about a gay couple in Japan and the many meals they share together.  Fair warning: it will make you very hungry.  (Mild sexual content/innuendo)