My Top 10 Manga

Hi Everyone,

Before diving into my list, I just wanted to draw your attention to a few things. For one, I’ve realised writing this piece that it’s so hard to compare manga at all. Each individual piece aims to evoke different feelings in the reader, and attach certain emotions to the manga itself. How does one go about comparing a one volume sci-fi manga to a fifteen volume romance series? In spite of this, I’ve done my best to rank my favourites in the most objective order I can, using criteria that I believe all manga should follow. While I do explain why each manga is so phenomenal, and do my best to justify its place on this list, I will post my actual marking criteria for reviewing manga in a future blog (this one is already very, very long). These rankings may change over time, either due to new manga favourites emerging or me re-reading certain series on this list. It’s also important to note that all these manga series are completed. In order to provide a holistic view on the quality of a series as a whole, I don’t really like writing reviews for ongoing manga. And with that out-of-the-way, lets discuss my top 10 favourite manga of all time!

10. The Flowers of Evil (Aku no Hana)

                    Story and art by Shuzo Oshimi

                Published in english by Vertical (11 Volumes)

Synopsis: The story follows Kasuga Takao, a middle schooler obsessed with Bauldaire’s “The Flowers of Evil”. When he goes to collect the book from class after school, he sees Saeseki Nanako, his “muse’s” gym clothes. On a whim, he decides to steal them. From here, Takao’s decent through adolescence takes an unpredictable turn, with new girl Nakamura spotting him take them. As their relationship blossoms, so does the flowers of evil.

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When I first started reading the manga, I didn’t like it. There were a few parts that really turned me off from it, and it was my third time attempting to read it in which I made it all the way through. I’m all for giving characters odd or destructive behaviours to make a point or to create an intended effect, but some of these were just too strange for me to ascribe any meaning to. There were quite a few psycho-sexual parts which left me shaking my head, thinking this was creator trying to make something deep through unecessary shock value.

However, as the story continued, and the characters revealed more about themselves, I realised it was all necessary. You could attribute these moments to the main character’s obsession towards a piece of writing that was much too advanced for him. It resulted in him misguiding his angst in weird ways due to a misinterpretation of the book, which I did appreciate. It was an ambitious attempt to embody teen anxiety and hatred in a way never done before. Though I couldn’t relate to a lot of the protagonists behaviours, I could relate to his feelings of frustration about life.

Despite the rocky start, I continued reading it, and I’m so glad I did. The second half of this manga is absolutely perfect. It embodied the shift from child to adolescent, and the angst one wades through on the path to adulthood. And for our protagonist, the path to redemption. During this part, I truly felt for the protagonist. He shed his whiny character and began to seriously develop. I could really relate to his struggles, trying to balance family troubles, friendships, hobbies and figuring out what he wants to do. This manga seemed to blend multiple genres, slice of life, seinen, romance and tragedy. However, it never felt like the piece lacked consistency, and only added to the unpredictability of it.

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The art got progressively better, culminating into some very engrossing scenes. At first, the characters were drawn quite poorly, but during the second part of the manga, there is visible improvement in Oshimi’s art. While it wasn’t the strongest point of this piece, it was still good.

I was both hooked and unable to predict what was going to happen throughout the whole of The Flowers of Evil. Not only did it have me addicted, afterwards, it left me with a wide range of feelings. But above all, it made me want to read more manga, so I could experience how this manga made me feel all over again. For those intimidated to continue reading after the first few chapters, I implore you to do so. It’s definitely anything but your standard slice of life, but it is a unique experience that should be implored for its ambitious story telling and vivid imagery.

Art – 8

Story – 9

Writing – 9

Overall – 8.7/10

9. Seraphim:266613336 Wings

Story by Mamoru Oishii, Art by Satoshi Kon

Published in english by Dark Horse (1 volume)

Synopsis: This manga is the story of a future Earth ravaged by the “Angel Plague”, a pandemic that causes its victims to morph into angelic forms while being afflicted with post-apocalyptic visions. The story follows a medical unit that journeys into the devastated asian continent in order to explore the cause of the plague, and its link to a little girl.tumblr_omc0spLFQN1slx60do1_1280.png

Seraphim was the first one volume manga I read that hit me as hard as a full length series had. I went in knowing of Kon’s involvement, but not realising that Oishii was also involved in this project. I loved Ghost in the Shell, and I’m glad I didn’t know until after I finished, as it didn’t influence my feelings towards it. Though it wouldn’t have, considering how much I loved this manga.

While the story wasn’t particularly unique (classic post-apocalyptic plot), being similar to manga like “Akira” and “Eden its and endless world”, the idea of a plague making the suffered look like angels really intrigued me. Though I know there was religious symbolism linked to it, it didn’t really make me think about external themes. I was too engrossed in the pictures before me. I just loved the imagery. Kon’s art is as fantastic as ever, and the depictions of the ailed are as beautiful as they are depressing. Like all his works, I felt like I was reading a movie.

The writing in this piece is fantastic too. While the start is quite slow, it really picks up around the half way mark, and I really got into the plot. The world that the authors created was expansive and detailed, and I found myself engrossed in the theme. It isn’t often that I genuinely feel trapped in a post-apocalyptic manga, but I felt anxious for the characters. I could not wait to continue reading through their journey.

And that’s where I ran into a massive problem. The only reason that this piece couldn’t be rated any higher was because of its unfinished status. I tried so hard to look at the piece holistically, just reviewing what I had in front of me. But I just couldn’t help but think of the potential there could have been. I understand the reason it ended was due to creative differences, and then Kon’s abrupt death to pancreatic cancer, but I can’t help think about what could have been if the stars had all aligned. sera p006.jpg

There was, however, a surprising gift at the end of this book. English manga adapter Carl Gustav Horn provides an insightful essay at the end of this piece which is worth a read on its own. In it, an account for the authors background and behind the scenes of Seraphim is provided, which adds some closure to the piece. He then goes on further to discuss the manga industry as a whole, which I really enjoyed. Seraphim was an incredibly gripping post apocalyptic tale. Despite its abrupt ending, it is a still an amazing stand alone piece. I genuinely believe that if it had a few more volumes created, I would have enjoyed it more than Akira.

 

Art – 9

Writing – 9

Story – 9

Overall – 8.8/10

8. Death Note

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Story by Tsugumi Ohba, Art by Takeshi Obata  

 Published in english by Viz (12 Volumes)

Synopsis: Light Yagami is considered a genius. He has the top grades in school, athletivally gifted, but also bored out of his mind. This changes when Light finds the Death Note, the most powerful weapon of mass destruction ever concieved. Any person whose name is written in the Death Note will die. We watch Light attempt to rid the world of evil, while the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. Their game of cat and mouse is the focus of this story.

Aside from one other manga (which will be discussed in another review), Death Note is the only piece which I think has the perfect start to a manga. I was hooked from page one, engrossed in both the mysterious world of the shinigami and the human world it connects to.

This manga is incredible for a number of reasons. For me, the strongest part of Death Note is its writing. The Death Note as a concept seems Over powered. There is no other manga where a weapon so powerful is given to the protagonist in the first couple of pages. So I was interested as to how the creators were going to make this series interesting when our protagonist, Light Yagami, can kill anyone in a matter of seconds.

However, a complex rivalry between our protagonist and the great detective L kept me enthralled throughout the piece. Though it can be attributed to excellent writing, the intellectual battle between a complex network of characters not only led to an engrossing plot, but a strong set of characters. The memorable characters that Death Note contain not only have substance to them, but have become standalone cult icons outside the manga. The art is fantastic too. It is highly detailed at precise moments, humanising the characters through the use of complex emotions and highlighting the scale of Light’s destruction. Further, the imagery used really struck the reader with the complex moral themes that were also being explored throughout the piece.

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I love a manga that is not only enjoyable, but also makes me think. Death Note poses an interesting moral dilemma; whether ridding the world of criminals through killing them is morally acceptable. Was Light’s actions unjustified? Is the young vigilante nothing more than a defender of justice? I think that’s up to each individual to decide, but the creators do a great job in showing both sides of the argument, and showing Light in a different… well, lights. It gives the reader breathing room to discuss with each other what really is the right thing to do. This also helped develop the characters, as their motives transformed from black and white to a dull grey.

Unfortunately, this manga is not consistently brilliant. The second half of the manga is both lacklustre and repetitious. The new characters that are introduced are carbon copies of previous ones, though ultimately worse than their predecessors. The ending itself wasn’t bad, but it didn’t have the bite that would have been possible if the series had been ended after the first half.

Despite a dip in quality, Death Note will forever be a staple of Shonen manga. Its exploration of complex themes and intense imagery leads to an incredibly engrossing read. Coupled with a cast of memorable characters and unique use of intellectual action makes Death Note an outstanding manga.

Art -10

Story – 7

Writing – 10

Overall – 8.9/10

7. Angel Densetsu

Angel_Densetsu_vol15.jpgStory and art by Norihiro Yagi

Yet to be published in english (15 volumes in Japanese)

Synopsis: Angel Densetsu follows Kitano Seiichirou, an incredibly kind and pure-hearted individual. Unfortunately, he also posses a monstrous face, which makes everyone around him perceive the young man as an evil delinquent. Through a string of misunderstandings, he is appointed the role of “school guardian” (head thug on campus).

I have a personal affection for high school manga. I loved high school, and reading manga like this, depicting the subtilties that come with school life, leave me with a wave a nostalgia. However, none come close to effecting me the way Angel Densetsu did. To think, such a simple concept could lead to such a genre defining piece.

Normally, I’d cringe at any chapter focusing on misunderstandings, let alone a whole manga dedicated to it. However, this piece was able to incorporate the idea very well, making it both humorous and fresh throughout the piece. There were times when I’d role my eyes over the incompetence of our protagonist, unable to get out of the simplest of situations. For the most part though, this manga’s plot line was consistent and well written. When a love interest is introduced, the manga gets even better, with new reasons to love the characters and the high school setting.

The characters are definitely the highlight of this manga. While each falls victim to our protagonists evil looks, they have their own individual goals and personalities, which I found enjoyable to experience. Though basic at times, the adventures the characters went through solidified their bond more so than in other manga, leaving the reader with the perception these fictitious characters really did share a special connection. This manga was genuinely funny, having me laugh out loud at multiple points throughout my read. However, repetition is present in this piece, particularly due to the theme of misunderstandings, though it wasn’t prevalent enough to bother me.

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The art in this piece was also surprisingly good. At first, the simplicity of the characters was a bit discouraging, but as the story progresses so to does the art. The landscape scenes were phenomenal, and I had one particular page as my screensaver for a very long time. The art isn’t perfect, but that in itself reinforces the simple motif that this manga is based on; don’t judge something by its looks.

A phenomenal manga, one I can’t believe has not been released in english. I hope that one day is gets the recognition it deserves, as being one of the best high school manga ever created.

Art – 7

Story – 10

Writing – 10

Overall – 9.1/10

6. Dragon Ball

Story and Art by Akira Toryama

Published in english by Viz (15 Volumes)

Synopsis: This manga follows the adventures of Goku, a young boy who goes on a journey in search of the 7 dragon balls, which can summon a wish granting dragon when collected. We also follow his martial art journey, as he aims to become the greastest fighter in the world.

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Dragon ball is the inspiration for almost all shonen manga to come after it. Every aspect of this manga, in its most basic form, has created archetypes that the genre still uses to this day. Despite being simple in art and story, it has become a cult icon, over 30 years after its initial creation.

Not only does Toriyama create a plethora of likeable characters, he creates an expansive universe. When I think of characters from Dragon Ball, so many spring to mind, all unique in their own right. Unfortunately, Dragon Ball’s simplicity is a double edged sword. Many characters seem underdeveloped. Instead of having multiple layers, many people within the Dragon Ball universe have simple personalities, with single traits or goals that motivate them. Further, besides change in size, and certain characters having refined martial art techniques, there isn’t much character development throughout the piece.

The art in Dragon Ball is also quite simple. Most characters are very basically designed, and many landscapes seem quite crudely drawn too. However, the art reflects the maturity of our protagonist. As Goku grows up, more details are made to the character and world depicted around him. This ultimately leads to the sequel, Dragon ball Z, having very detailed art, with characters almost overdeveloped at times. Instead of letting the simplicity hinder his work, Toryama made it part of his style, while slowly refining his technique. His ability to take very simple concepts and artwork and turn it into an epic similar to those depicted in Homeric poems is a testament to his genius.

Dragon Ball is very easy to read, and re-read. However, its simplicity can lead to repetitiveness, with not much insightful storytelling occurring. During my first read, I never had a problem with it. By my third or fourth read, though, I was able to distinguish certain patterns that repeats in each sub-arc. Even when identifying this, however, I had a lot of fun reading. While it didn’t leave me pondering moral dilemmas, I was able to appreciate the incredible journey I had just gone on.9651c2aea6d39d6d4247ae7d907c0659.jpg

The writing, while simple, differentiates between maturation levels of characters. Goku, as a child, speaks quite naively. Older characters, such as Roshi and Yamcha have a better grasp of reality. In saying this, all characters are quite silly, and will never be remembered for their complexity. I still found some of the martial artists incredibly cool, even with simplistic dialogue and art. Unfortunately, Dragon ball Z ruined what little character development made in Dragon Ball; where the story went seemed like a necessary step in expanding the universe, but made this part of the series seem a bit redundant, as most characters became ridiculously weak.

Dragon ball is the ultimate shonen journey. It is the original epic that most shonen mangaka aspire to create. The simplicity of the manga reflects the protagonist, but can be a hinderance at point. However, this classic pioneered the genre, and should be read by anyone who wants a fun time.

Art – 8

Story – 10

Writing – 9

Overall – 9.2/10

5. Maison Ikkoku

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Story and Art by Rumiko Takahashi 

Published in English by Viz (15 volumes, now out of print)     

Synopsis: The story surrounds the “nuttiest” apartment house in all of Japan, “Maison Ikkou”, filled with volatile inhabitants. Though, we follow Yusaku Godai, the exam-addled college student and Kyoko, the mysterious new apartment manager.

Personally, I prefer manga that are able to encapsulate the subtleties of life rather than create detailed fantasy worlds. If one is able to portray the mundanity of life, it adds an appreciation to these smaller things. I find myself spotting them in my own life, and realising that I have been taking them for granted all this time. Maison Ikkoku has a simple slice of life storyline with romantic themes weaved throughout it. Due to the simplicity of the plot, Takahashi relies on the characters to add substance and interest to the piece, which they do. I was surprised at how much the characters, and story, stuck with me.

The art is simple but unique, characterised by the classic Takahashi style that has delighted readers for decades. Without out being given descriptions of our characters, the reader can already tell what they are like. This is partly due to cookie-cutter designs, but also due to Takahashi’s subtle way of drawing behaviour. For example, the more promiscuous characters have sly smiles and open body language. The range of characters was notable, though not incredible. I definitely preferred the side characters than the protagonist and love interest, despite there only being a few. The characters aren’t particularly developed, but, unlike other manga, I didn’t bother me at all. I think that the actions of the characters were realistic enough, which made there actions seem indicative of their personality rather than repetitious.

Unlike Takahashi’s similar works such as “Ranma 1/2”, Maison Ikkoku is the perfect 33488303c998b5082373f709d6cdcf14--manga-drawing-drawing-ideas.jpglength. I feel like I’ve been on a journey with the characters, without repetition or filler chapters. The dreaded “misunderstanding” chapters are still present, but even in these slower chapters progression always feels like its being made. The piece was balanced, with no rushed parts or inconsistent story arcs. Similar to the story, the writing in this piece is simple, yet effective. It’s not trying to discuss incredibly profound topics, just real people developing genuine relationships. And I think Takahashi portrays the subtleties of daily life perfectly.                         

This piece really surprised me. I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy it, and how much of an effect it would have on me. This has to be the ultimate romance manga. It’s a beautiful love story with great characters, good pacing and a satisfying ending, as well as being a great introduction to the Takahashi library. This manga is a relaxing read which left me pondering my relationships afterwards.

Art – 9.1

Story – 10

Writing – 9.1

Overall – 9.2/10

4. Akira

Story and Art by Katsuhiro Otomo

Published in English by Kodansha (6 Volumes)

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Synopsis: Akira is set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, built on the ashes of an apocalyptic blast that started World War III. It follows gang members Testsuo and Kaneda. When paranormal abilities begin to awaken within Tetsuo, he becomes the target of a government organisation trying to prevent another catastrophe within Neo-Tokyo. Though, their inherent fear comes from a monstrous power, known only as “Akira”.

Everyone knows about Akira. This manga is on everyones “read” or “to-read” list. The film adaptation of the manga only solidified its already pronounced legacy. This piece really is a testament to how powerful this art form really is.

There is so much to talk about Akira, but if you’ve ever read a manga top ten list before, you probably have an idea of how incredible it is. Before even becoming a movie, the manga had a cinematic feel to it. Absolutely breathtaking art combined with intelligent panel placement left the reader sucked into a post-apocalyptic delight. The pacing of this manga is also outstanding. Whether or not the story has the protagonist battling evily-dimwitted government officials or roaming through the sewers of Neo-Tokyo, a clear stream of events is in play. I have never been quite fond of manga in this genre, but this piece truly challenged my beliefs in regards to the medium of manga itself.

As mentioned previously, the art is phenomenal. Not only were characters drawn in painstaking detail, but the various environments were created perfectly. If a nuclear bomb were to destroy an entire country, I imagine that the outcome would look almost identical to Otomo’s vision. Otomo also created an incredible world, filled with a range of diverse characters. Being the first mangaka to notably incorporate influences from outside the manga medium, Otomo utilised the styles of french comic artists to create a new level or realism to his piece.

bc65a89d344407fa1a702987f309faa4--akira-tetsuo-akira-manga.jpgThat being said, the characters didn’t develop much. The way that each person was separated from others seemed to be through either attire or powers. Though it’s easy to overlook, I finished the manga not really knowing anything about any of the characters I had been reading about for over 6 books, which made them relatively forgettable. There also seemed to be a large amount of tropes used (e.g. Government agent being perceived as both incompetent and evil), possibly due to the time of the manga’s creation.

Despite disappointing characters, the story itself is incredible. A true epic which explored profound themes, including the ever-increasing influence of technology, corruption within leadership, biker gangs and, most importantly, how war is able to completely stump the development of nations. Amidst all this chaos, Otomo is able to integrate the daily lives of people affected by the surrounding anarchy. In spite of its dated character design, Akira is a near perfect creation; it’s able to be violent, yet educative, emotional, yet deeply profound. There is a reason this post modern classic is still discussed to this day, and its impact yet to fade into the past.

Art – 10

Story – 10

Writing – 9

Overall – 9.5/10

3. Pluto

Art by Naoki Urasawa, Original Story by Osamu Tezuka

Published in englished by Viz (8 volumes)

Synopsis: Someone, or something is destroying the seven most powerful robots in the world, one after the other. Their brutal dismantlement seems out of nowhere, causing widespread fear in the public. Gesicht, one of the seven and a commended detective embarks on a mission to capture the killer.

I began reading Pluto after I’d taken a long break from manga. It was at a time in my life where I was quite busy, and struggling to balance my hobbies, education and social life. On a whim, I picked this piece up just to pass the time before I was to begin studying later that day. Pluto, in one fell swoop, completely revitalised my love for manga. It felt so refreshing in a weird sense; I felt like all the tropes found within manga had disappeared, and I was reading a completely unique piece. Pluto is without a doubt my favourite Urawasa manga.

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Pluto has an incredible story line and concept, though some of this can be attributed to Osamu Tezuka, whose work was the source material. As his art style is arguably dated, I always wondered what it would be like if Tezuka had been brought up in this era of manga creation and how his art would have changed. It was very interesting to see this through the use of Urasawa’s incredible art, which definitely did the plot justice. It really encapsulated the bleak and hopeless mood permeating around the characters.

This piece did a great job at discussing the ethics around robotics. The story depicts many robots filled with compassion and sadness, sometimes even more than the human characters. As opposed to love being what blurs the line between human and robot, Urasaw/Tezuka opted for an equally powerful emotion, regret. The characters are so emotional, you forget sometimes that they aren’t really human.

I was originally sceptical of reading this, as I knew it was an adapted story arc from the Astro Boy series. Though I’ve never read it myself, I wondered what more Urasawa could bring to an already iconic piece. Well, I can admit I was totally wrong. All the characters are adapted perfectly; Urasawa has created unique characters with interesting backstories, while staying faithful to Tezuka’s works (from the snippets of Astro Boy I read, after finishing Pluto). Further, his art accentuates the darker themes that Tezuka explored in the original piece. The simplistic art style made conveying more serious themes difficult, noticeable in a handful of Tezuka works, but Urasawa highlights these darker sub plots with his art. Pluto, despite its origins, can definatley hold itself up as a standalone piece.

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Unfortunately, Urasawa has a habit of overcomplicating his plots. This is also true in Pluto. While switching between different characters, the plot becomes a bit blurred, and towards the end of the piece I forgot what the original mystery was. In spite of this, the story had great pacing. There was enough substance within the manga to get me invested before slapping me across the face with an emotional twist, leaving me hooked after the first chapter. The ending was satisfying to the reader, and ultimately, would have left Tezuka proud. This manga was incredible, ticking the boxes every manga should. A must read for all enthusiasts of the genre.

Art: 9

Story: 10

Writing: 9

Overall: 9.6/10

1421537729.jpg2.  Cross Game

Story and art by Mitsuru Adachi                          

Published in english by Viz (8 omnibus volumes)

Synopsis: Kitamura Koh has known the Tsukishima family for years. One of the Tsukishima daughters was even born on the exact same date as Koh! What will become of Koh when his best friend is no longer around? A tale of love, growth, and baseball.

In my opinion, Cross game is without  a doubt the ultimate slice of life manga. It blends heartbreak, passion, determination and success in a perfect way while portraying daily life in all its mundanity, taking me on an emotional journey.

It takes the theme of tragedy, which is inherently negative, and highlights how it strengthens a community and the bond between people. A large portion of the characters reminisce about the tragedy that occurred in their childhood, and use it as a cornerstone to develop as people. Which they do. All characters have been meticulously created, all likeable and inherently human. In a genre where character archetypes are very common, these characters seemed to stand up as 3 dimensional people.

The art was simple, and that’s great, because it didn’t need to do anything else. While I’m an advocate for great art (as I assume most manga readers are) I also understand that art as a trait is used for different reasons. In Cross game, art is used in a more simplistic manner, not too complicated, yet it still stays with me to this day. It was created to portray childhood perceptions, adolescence and personal development. Though the art style doesn’t change, it still makes the reader feel like the characters have evolved, which is highly commendable.

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A important point I want to make; as an Australian reader, I am totally unaware of the intricacies of baseball, nor am I a fan. Yet, I still loved all the sporting elements, even when I didn’t totally understand what was going on. It strips baseball to its simplest form, and on the field is where our protagonists develops most, giving it an important role in the manga.

In the 8 volumes that Cross game made up, I felt like I grew up with these characters; we laughed together, cried together and refined ourselves together. While there were time jumps, they were not frequent enough to be annoying or confusing. Rather, they were helpful in emphasising character development, particularly when the art didn’t develop.

Ultimately, this manga did everything I wanted it to do; it captured my attention and made me feel whatever it wanted. I was legitimately in the palm of the author’s hand. This is an amazing manga, and any slice of life fan must read this to truly understand what the genre is able to produce. This near perfect piece is a testament to the emotive capabilities of manga.

Art – 9

Story – 10

Writing – 10

Overall – 9.8/10

 

1. A drifting life (Gekiga Hyouryuu)

Story and Art by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Published in english by Drawn and Quarterly (One Volume)

Synopsis: A drifting life is an autobiographical piece created by the “grandfather of alternative manga” Yoshihiro Tatsumi. It explores his struggles, decisions, and ultimately, his love for manga.041509_adriftinglife02.jpg

This manga is perfect. A story rich with issues, development and success. I was totally engrossed reading this piece, and when I wasn’t reading this manga, I was thinking about reading it. A Drifting Life left me with a touching experience, and a deeper love for manga.

Though an autobiography, it was still a genuine and unbiased piece; the protagonist was just as flawed as he was successful. Tatsumi goes as far as to change the names of all the characters in his piece, as to make it less awkward for himself (how humble!). These creations are probably the most extraordinary part of this piece. While they themselves do not possess superhuman abilities, they are just so real. Sometimes I found myself taking a step back and realising these are all fictitious characters. Though they were all based off of real people, the ability to recreate life on static pieces of paper is indicative of Tasumi’s genius.

In an autobiographical manga, pacing is especially important. Too slow and the reader becomes bored/uninterested, but too quick and the reader has no time to become attached to the life they are now following. Amongst other things, this was done perfectly in A drifting life. I honestly felt like I was part of the Tatsumi family, jumping up for joy at their achievements and feeling depressed when misfortune plagued the family. I have never felt this way about any other manga before, and it was an unbelievable experience. The transitions were so smooth, as if I was watching a movie. What felt like minutes reading became hours. To be this engrossed with any type of stimuli seemed impossible to me. It was like a spell had been cast on me. I genuinely believed I was drifting alongside our protagonist through life’s struggles.

One of the ways Tatsumi employs progression in his story is by referencing historical events at specific dates, updating us on the years and events occurring at the time. Tatsumi goes into painstaking detail, exploring both pop culture and events of historical significance. It was a brilliant way to set the scene/break up sub plots. I felt like reading the manga was an educational experience, and that I was developing as a person along with the times.

tatsumi_y_from_0209_14.jpgThe only part of this piece I was unsure about coming in was the art. A large amount of older mangakas employ a more simplistic art style, which is indicative of the time they were creating manga. There’s nothing wrong with simpler art, but sometimes it does detract from the story or ability to be completely emerged in this piece. However, my assumptions were quickly put to rest. The designs were simple, yet powerful – it was manga stripped to its simplest form and it worked so well. Towards the start, I did have a difficult time differentiating some of the characters. However, after becoming attached to the characters, it was easy to see who was who. Despite its simplicity, the art could become incredibly detailed too, producing very realistic interpretations of key figures in history.

Not only was A drifting Life an amazing manga, it was a surreal experience for me. Irrelevant of your familiarity with manga, everyone should read this piece. It not only highlights the parameters of the medium, but it also deepened my infatuation with it. I can’t wait to forget this manga, so I can re-read it all over again!

Art – 10

Story – 10

Writing – 10

Overall – 10/10

And there you have it. Thank you so much for reading! Look out for more reviews in the future. 

Luke.

Image sources:

Flowers of evil: Image sources: http://qmanga.com/mangareader/aku-no-hana/reader?page=45, http://www.mangapanda.com/aku-no-hana/33/22, http://smithsonianapa.org/bookdragon/the-flowers-of-evil-vols-8-9-by-shuzo-oshimi-translated-by-paul-starr/

Seraphim: Image sources: https://au.pinterest.com/pin/412009065893911546/?lp=true, http://www.gramunion.com/tagged/mamoru%20oshii?n=1488772595

Death Note: https://www.viz.com/blog/posts/manga-death-note-twisted-justice-637, http://goodokbad.com/index.php/reviews/death_note_review

Angel Densetsu: http://www.mangareader.net/angel-densetsu/7/26, https://www.google.com.au/url?s, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_Densetsu

Dragon Ball: http://neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?p=49506072, https://au.pinterest.com/pin/142144931967481660/?lp=true

Maison ikkoku: http://au.ign.com/blogs/monkeyswithguns/2013/04/23/manga-showcase-spotlight-backlog-2-maison-ikkoku, https://au.pinterest.com/pin/182958803590186097/?lp=true

Akira: http://www.mangareader.net/akira/1/280, https://au.pinterest.com/explore/akira-tetsuo/?lp=true, https://www.forbes.com/sites/olliebarder/2017/10/12/taika-waititi-does-not-want-to-whitewash-akira-and-it-looks-like-he-has-read-the-manga-as-well/#6dc6d9794f88

Pluto: http://comicsalliance.com/astro-boy-pluto-comparison/, http://goodokbad.com/index.php/reviews/pluto_review

Cross Game: http://goodokbad.com/index.php/reviews/cross_game_vols_1_and_2_review

A Drifting life: http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/graphic-lit/from-a-drifting-life , http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2009/04/15/a-drifting-life/

 

 

3 thoughts on “My Top 10 Manga

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