I’ve been wanting to post about manga again for a while, and since I recently finished a large number of series, and picked up an equally large number of new series to replace them, now’s probably the perfect time.
I also signed up to Goodreads a while back, and gradually added everything I’ve read to it, in hopes of getting some decent recommendations. Have to say, I’m impressed with what it’s suggested so far! Here’s my profile if anybody’s interested. 🙂
Status: 3 of 10 volumes read (9 owned).
Why I picked it up: After School Nightmare is the perfect example of a good recommendation by Goodreads. I’d never heard of it before, and I’m not sure if I’d ever have come across it otherwise. The series is long out of print, and most of the volumes expensive and hard to find… but after I missed a train connection and was stranded in Wolverhampton for 2 hours, I found six volumes of the series in a 3-for-2 offer at Forbidden Planet. This was about two weeks after the site recommended it to me. Clearly, it was my destiny to start the series. The reason I’ve only got nine out of ten volumes? Unfortunately, volume nine is a bit out of my price range, at least until next pay day!
Presentation: I believe this is the first series from the (long defunct) publisher Go! Comi that I’ve ever seen, let alone bought. Nice covers, good paper quality, and the pages at the start of each volume are in colour. I may have to check out the rest of their back catalogue, though I fear a lot of it will be incomplete series, stalled indefinitely after they went bust.
Story: Protagonist Ichijou Mashiro’s everyday school life is turned upside down after he is forced to participate in special after school ‘lessons’, where he and other anonymous school pupils enter a dreamlike world in which their ‘true forms’ and darkest secrets are laid bare for everyone else to see. There, they battle each other psychologically in order to win possession of a key, which will allow them to ‘graduate’. It’s an interesting premise, which makes for very interesting character interactions inside and outside of the dream world.
Overall Thoughts: It’s off to a great start, and (while I do hope to find a cheaper copy by the time I get to that point in the series) I’ll be more than happy to fork out for volume nine if it stays this good!
Status: 1 of 10+ volumes read (2 owned).
Why I picked it up: As you’ve no doubt already gathered, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the series that Goodreads has been introducing me to. I spent hours following all the guidance in order to make sure its recommendations were as relevant to my interests as a computer program can manage, and even put together a ‘want to read’ list of 20 series that the site suggested, in order of priority. Knights of Sidonia was not one of those series. I bought it completely on impulse. Proof that I’m not entirely reliant on the site… yet. 😛
Presentation: The cover is very black… as you’d expect from a series set in space. There’s a fair bit of white, too, on the main character’s space suit, and the mech he’s standing on. Also red, mostly in the title. Looks quite striking, actually. Inside, the art is equally superb, and probably my favourite part of the series, at least at this early stage before I’ve really gotten to know the characters or story.
Story: Protagonist Tanikaze Nagate lived for most (possibly all?) of his early life hidden away in some dark corner of the spaceship known as the Sidonia, until the day he finally ran out of food. He is then caught stealing rice from a factory… and so begins his induction into every day, normal society on the ship, where people can photosynthesise, and clone themselves through asexual reproduction. Also, there’s these horrible aliens which they have to fight in awesome looking mechs.
Overall Thoughts: Nice art, great premise… shame about the pacing. I feel that Knights of Sidonia should really be one of the best series I’m reading right now, but there doesn’t seem to be much flow from one manga panel to another a lot of the time, and I’ve found myself losing track of what’s going a few times as a result. 😕 I hear it’s getting an anime adaptation at some point, though, so it’ll be interesting to see if/how they address that. As for the manga, I’ll give it more of a chance.
Status: 6 of 11+ volumes read (in the form of three omnibuses).
Why I picked it up: I watched (and reviewed!) the Loveless anime a couple of years ago, and was disappointed by the ending (or lack of one). Then Viz came along, rescued the manga from Tokyopop’s cold, undead clutches, and re-released it in convenient, reasonably priced omnibuses. I figured that was as good an excuse as any to revisit the series.
Story: Much the same as the anime, if memory serves, up until the last 2-3 volumes I read, so I won’t go over it again – if you want to know what its about, go read my review (or the synopsis linked to in the series title, if you’d prefer). 😛 And I won’t discuss the new plot developments in the manga, either, partly because SPOILERS, but also because there’s still so much mystery surrounding ‘Septimal Moon’ and Ritsuka’s brother Seimei that I don’t have a clue what’s going on anyway. But I can’t wait to find out! As well as the creepy, mysterious setting, the character development in this series is top notch.
Overall Thoughts: The fourth omnibus just got released, and since Viz already published books 9 through 11 as individual volumes in the meantime, I should catch up pretty soon! As soon as my wallet will allow, that is…
Status: 3 of 17 volumes read (in the form of one huge omnibus).
Why I picked it up: I watched the anime a couple of years ago… don’t have a review to hand this time, but needless to say I loved it, and started to feel nostalgic. Then Viz came along and released the manga in convenient, reasonably priced omnibuses. Viz, just take all my money and keep giving me omnibuses.
Presentation: Not as good as the Loveless release – no colour pictures, no bonus content, lower paper quality… but that’s fine with me. Adachi Mitsuru-sensei’s art and distinctive character designs, while nice, aren’t the series’ main strength anyhow, in my opinion.
Story: This was the series that made me realize that sports anime were worth checking out, even though I’m a physically challenged weakling, and hate watching sport on TV. So far, the manga is more than living up to the nostalgia of the anime. Cross Game introduces a lovable cast of characters that quickly grow on you. Most of the time it is hilarious, though it can be dramatic, serious, and even depressingly sad when it needs to be. And it makes baseball seem interesting, which (for me at least, especially since I live in the UK where the sport is barely played) is quite an achievement on its own. 😛
Overall Thoughts: If I could afford another manga volume right now, out of all the series I’m currently collecting, I’d probably buy the second Cross Game omnibus. Wouldn’t say its the best thing I’m reading, but it is addictive, and nostalgia counts for a lot!
Status: 4 of 9 volumes read (all owned).
Why I picked it up: A friend was selling it. I hadn’t heard of the series before, but I looked up the synopsis. It promised traps. I needed no further convincing.
Presentation: Honestly, the volumes don’t stand out much with their pale green backgrounds and pretty characters in light, pastel colours on the cover. I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I might well have done if I was just buying the series in a shop or online, where there are much flashier looking series on offer. Don’t get me wrong though, the artwork is very nice – love the 1980s character designs!
Story: There is a backstory explaining why protagonist Suka ended up going to Ryokuto Academy, and ended up staying in the boy’s dormitory nicknamed ‘Greenwood’ as a result… but that’s not really important. It’s the crazy hijinks that he’s forced into by his fellow dorm residents that are the main focus of the series, and they are all hilarious. As with Cross Game, Here is Greenwood can be dramatic and serious at times, but (so far at least) there’s always been a punchline at the end of the chapter. 😛
Overall Thoughts: While my other recent purchases may have more original premises and stronger storylines, Here is Greenwood is just a bit of light-hearted fun, which is fine by me.
So that’s some of what I’m reading at the moment, anyway. And since I’ve got between five and fourteen volumes to go before I catch up with/finish any of them, they should keep me going for a while. 😀 Feel free to ask me more about any of these manga series, or recommend me something else in the comments! Who knows, I might just take your advice over that of Goodreads. 😛