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My Top 10 Best Manga - Part 1
This is a follow up to the hub I wrote earlier entitled The Effect of Japanese Animation on American Culture. I love anime but manga has a place in my heart that can't possibly be replaced. I will also say the purpose of this hub is to give a brief review on manga starting from the least to my most favorite. I have read dozens, or better yet, hundreds of manga. I love the stories. I love the art. As an aspiring writer I seek to improve my craft by emulating and learning techniques and methods from other authors. I have read several hundred novels and short stories and the like. Some of my favorite authors are Frank Herbert, Orson Scott Card, Isaac Asimov, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan, the list goes on.
So let's get this party started! I must say... this was difficult! I not only had to reread a lot of the stories I chose. I also had to sift through the two-thousand manga list I have and find which ones I preferred over others. A lot of time and love has gone into this because I want to share with you some pretty amazing stories. Let's begin!
Shamo was a story I came across during the time where I was absolutely obsessed with martial arts manga. Shamo was written in 1998 by Izo Hashimoto and illustrated by Akio Tanaka, it features the dark and violent story of Ryo Narushima. It is classified seinen, which means it is manga that targets males between the ages of 20 and 30 years old (hey! I fit that demographic!)
Ryo Narushima is a genius. This however is completely lost on everyone as he immediately becomes "Boy A," the parent killer. That's right. Ryo murders his parents. He has a mental breakdown and kills his parents. Alright! Now that I've established that. Ryo is sent to an underage rehabilitation center where he is introduced to karate. Now as I said I managed to find this cause of my craving for martial arts manga at the time but what really stuck out about this one over all the others that I read was the sickening message that was more prominent then any other, "survive." Ryo is backed into a corner on numerous occasions and foregoing honor and pride and dignity he'll do what it takes to survive. The reason why I chose this as my number ten is because the further the story goes I found myself losing interest because the same situations kept repeating themselves. He never seems to find salvation and only digs himself a bigger pit in which he'll eventually be buried. I do recommend this story as it gives a gritty representation of how to survive at your worst and the things a human being will do to keep their life, however, be prepared for a very graphic and messed up tale.
This didn't look like something that I would go for. It is seinen, but a huge attractor for me in reading anything is actually the cover of the book. I know it's silly cause the story might be good (in this case it was amazing) but I can't help but feel more or less drawn to a book by the display. This one kept popping up on my recommended, so I read it. I was not disappointed.
Written by Kitazawa Miya and illustrated by Akashige Manabu in 1997, this story is about a group of perverted little boys who are part of a group dedicated to "pervy" things. This is just the foundation of the story as the main characater Aizuka Tsukasa, makes the "dash" from childhood to adulthood in about the same time it takes him to cover 100 meters. However, Tsukasa’s journey toward sharing an adult understanding of love and life comes at great cost to those around him. Fighting through adversity, Tsukasa finds out that being the best in bed and on the track isn’t what makes life worth living. Rather, he must strive to attain his dreams and finally to prove his love to the one who got away.
This story is dark in the sense that it shows how different a person becomes when they are an adult and that by sticking to the ways of a child are sometimes best. I chose this as my number nine because it's always left a lasting impression on me. It has adult themes so I recommend it only to the folks that can look past that and enjoy it for what it is.
#8- Bio Meat
The basic idea is that food is scarce and trash is piling up, so science comes up with a bio-engineered animal that survives by eating trash, and is then killed to feed humanity. You can guess what may happen if a self-replicating, endlessly hungry killing machine got loose in Tokyo.
Yes that is the basic premise of Bio Meat. It's graphic, it's childish and it's somewhat repetitive but the foreshadowing in the story and the plot development is so well done you'd have to read it as many times as I did to catch all the hints dropped that are plainly visible after you've read it as many times as I did. This one is classified as a horror just because it IS that graphic. But that element always adds a sense of realism to the story. The art isn't necessarily impressive but it's also not terrible. It was drawn at the cusp of the new millennia so the style is very similar to that of other manga done in the 90's. Released in 2000 by Fujisawa Yuki, he wrote and drew the entire story.
I chose Bio Meat as my eighth because it just wasn't as awesome as the first seven but not bad enough to be beat out by nine and ten. Yes, that's my reasoning. It just makes sense to me. I recommend this only if you can stand reading a lot of gore and seeing some pretty twisted stuff.
Beck, after the band, Beck, after a Frankenstein dog, Beck, otherwise known as the Mongolian Chop Squad.
What the heck does any of that mean?! Well the story of Beck appealed to the musician in me and it inspired me in many ways. Harold Sakuishi (Harold being his pen name) is the author and illustrator for this invigorating tale. Classified as shonen, this category is generally for the age of 10 and up. (I also happen to fit into that category) Its run started in 2000 and finished in 2008. Now Beck, in this story, is the name of the dog that is the mascot for the band (in Japan) that becomes Beck. The dog is named after the famous American band named Beck. Get it now? Good!
Yukio "Koyuki" Tanaka is the protagonist in this story and it follows him in his journey of discovering a hidden talent for singing and his eventual growth into a amazing guitarist. He is inspired by Ryūsuke "Ray" Minami, who is already an extremely talented guitarist but also rather temperamental, which is supposedly the disposition of rather ingenious artists (yeahrightokay) They form a band and gather members, all who have unique talents and personalities. They have their ups and downs and it made me think a lot of the issues that I myself have in a band. I chose Beck as my seventh because its an inspirational story and it sung with me (singer pun) because I'm in a band myself and it really hit home. If you want a feel good story. Beck is it.