2013 saw a lot of great manga, from beautifully packaged products featuring classic manga masters, to excellent volumes of new ongoing titles. It's always hard to narrow down my favorites to just ten books, but I've done just that in the following list. The top books on this list will also be featured in my forthcoming overall best comics of 2013 list.
So, in my opinion, these are the best manga that the year had to offer...
2. The Twin Knights (Osamu Tezuka) - A follow up to the classic Princess Knight, Tezuka once again forces a heroine into men's clothing as two twins are separated at birth and a kingdom is at stake. Like Princess Knight, this story is epic, and takes readers on a magical journey through different landscapes, meeting all sorts of strange people, before culminating in a breath-taking climax.
4. Vinland Saga (Makoto Yukimura) - This truly is a saga, featuring castles being stormed by waves of Viking warriors, ambushed ships at sea, and challenges of one-on-one combat. Vinland Saga tells the story of Vikings as they wage war and make merry, but also a look at their everyday lives, and tragic, bloody history. Yukimura's artwork is clear and well-suited for this historical action story, moving the events along cinematically, and sweeping readers up in its grandeur.
6. Attack On Titan (Hajime Isayama) - The twists keep coming in this post-apocalyptic story about the remnants of humanity surviving behind walls that keep out man-eating giants. This series is bloody and action-packed, and utterly nail-biting as things really go awry. There is plenty of mystery in this series to keep readers coming back for more, between some pretty amazing action sequences.
8. Gold Pollen and Other Stories (Seiichi Hayashi) - This release from PictureBox showcases some lovely work from alternative manga artist Seiichi Hayashi, whose work we've seen previously in Drawn & Quarterly's release, Red Colored Elegy. There are four stories collected here, with Hayashi experimenting with his style for different experiences with each. I love Hayashi's use of color, especially when it's used sparsely in the later stories, although my favorite of the four offerings is the one full-color story, "Dwelling in Flowers," examining a relationship between mother and son. I didn't really care for "Yamanba Lullaby," but otherwise, even the short "Red Dragonfly" was a moving short work. Hayashi is very subtle about things, which I like, and the stories feel more real because of it.
10. Atomcat (Osamu Tezuka) - This all-ages title from master Osamu Tezuka brings his most famous creation to the limelight again, in an unusual way. Tsugio, who is bullied at school, takes refuge in the Astro Boy stories he reads with his father, and when he takes in a kitten with a slight resemblance to Astro Boy, circumstances lead to the cat's alteration into a super kitten, protecting Tsugio from bullies on all sorts of adventures. This book is lots of fun. Cute and heartfelt, and perfect for manga fans of any age.
The Mysterious Underground Men (Osamu Tezuka)
Sunny (Taiyo Matsumoto)
Triton of the Sea (Osamu Tezuka)
Wandering Son (Shimura Takako)
Yotsuba&! (Kiyohiko Azuma)