Monday, January 05, 2009

Best Manga of 2008

When I put together my Top 20 Comics of 2008 list this year, I noted that there weren't as many superhero comics or manga as in years past. So, I made a separate list for superheroes, and now another one for manga, because I love manga! And despite the fact that many didn't make it onto my list of the best comics of the year, there was a lot of great manga out there. So, here they are, the ten best of what manga had to offer in 2008...
10. Naoki Urasawa's Monster (Naoki Urasawa) - This series just keeps getting better as it races toward its conclusion and all of the players gather at the creepy stage that's been set for the showdown between Johan and Dr. Tenma. It's been a year for tension and suspense in Monster.
9. Me and the Devil Blues (Akira Hiramoto) - The life of blues legend Robert Johnston is steeped in myth, and Hiramoto uses that to great effect, weaving the lives of Bonnie and Clyde into his life, playing up the whole "sold his soul to the devil" legend, and painting a fascinating fictitious life. Full review of volume one here.
8. Shirley (Kaoru Mori) - Despite my preference for longer stories, the short works presented in this single volume featuring maids in Edwardian England are very charming and beautiful. It's not quite made up of the same quality as Mori's fantastic Emma material, but there's some really good stuff here.

7. Red Colored Elegy (Seiichi Hayashi) - This unique, non-linear book from Drawn & Quarterly is a vivid, interesting experience full of atmosphere and wonderful drawings. It's depressing, but ultimately very satisfying. Full review here.

6. Bat-Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan (Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear & Saul Ferris) - This book that includes photographs of Japanese Batman merchandise primarily consists of Batman comics by Jiro Kuwata, whose stories are over-the-top and a hell of a lot of fun. I'm glad that this sort of thing exists, and I'm also excited that Chip Kidd has said that there's enough material for a follow-up book should sales warrant it. Read my review.

5. Black Jack (Osamu Tezuka) - The amazing Osama Tezuka's beloved Black Jack series sees a new printing in the United States thanks to Vertical, featuring the adventures of a creepy, but very skilled surgeon. Review of volume one here.

4. Solanin (Inio Asano) - I'm surprised that this got such mixed reactions from the comic book community, but I guess Asano's later material is superior to what appears in this work (which makes me excited for that material!). Solanin follows a group of twenty-somethings as they attempt to make the transition into adulthood. Beautiful and riveting. Review here.

3. Cat Eyed Boy (Kazuo Umezu) - A very superhero-ish horror comic that follows a mutant boy who goes up against all sorts of odd monstrosities as he tries to fit in (or just find a nice quiet place to stay). Unfortunately, danger's never too far behind him. This series is just a lot of fun. Great monster designs, some genuinely creepy stories and a great main character who is either the focus of any given story within this two-volume manga set of shorts, or is treated as a force of nature blowing into the lives of the characters the story focuses on. Review of both volumes here.

2. (TIE) Sand Chronicles (Hinako Ashihara) and Monkey High (Shouko Akira) - These two shojo books from Viz were impossible for me to decide between for the number two slot. They're both excellent emotional, funny, silly books with flawed characters who are awkward with their boyfriends and try their best to fit in. Reviews here and here.

1. Nana (Ai Yazawa) - One of the first manga I fell in love with is still going strong well into its run. This year saw several huge developments in the lives of the heroines and their friends, and the emotions have never run so high. Yazawa's art is beautiful as ever, and her storytelling is utterly suspenseful and very cinematic. Here's my review of volume ten.

That's it! My favorite manga of the year. I hope you enjoyed the list and check out some of the titles if you haven't read them all already!

1 comment:

Asvic said...

Glad to see Monster up there. It was on my list of must read manga too.