Read all Rating
20th Century Boys (manga) Very good
21st Century Boys (manga) Good
A,A' (manga) Very good
Abandon the Old in Tokyo (manga) Excellent
Abara (manga) Good
Akira (manga) Masterpiece
Alice 19th (manga) Decent
Alive (manga by T Takahashi) Not really good
All My Darling Daughters (manga) Very good
Angel (manga by Sakurazawa) So-so
Angel Nest (manga) So-so
Apollo's Song (manga) So-so
Aqua (manga) So-so
Aqua Knight (manga) Weak
Arigatou (manga) Excellent
(The) Aromatic Bitters (manga) Decent
Ashen Victor (manga) Good
Azumanga Daioh (manga) Very good
Bakune Young (manga) Excellent
Basilisk (manga) Not really good
Battle Angel Alita (manga) Very good
Battle Royale (manga) Weak
Ugly art coupled with story changes that forget the purpose of the original story? And an even more impossibly awful rewrite in the English adaption by Tokyopop? Bleh. Go for the novel released by Viz, instead; easily more compelling and thoughtful than this mess.
Believers (manga) Excellent
Benkei in New York (manga) Good
Between the Sheets (manga, E. Sakurazawa) Decent
Black Cat (manga by K. Yabuki) Bad
Unless one is truly forgiving of stealing the most base elements from whatever makes Rurouni Kenshin and Trigun actually interesting, or else lacks a critical bone in their body, then avoid this series at all costs.
Blame! (manga) Very good
Blood: The Last Vampire 2002 (manga) Bad
There's a two-page scene in which a vampire girl has sex with her bitten slave. That's nice, I guess.
Blue (manga by K. Nananan) Masterpiece
Blue Heaven (manga) Good
Blue Spring (manga) Very good
Bokurano: Ours (manga) Very good
Boogiepop Dual (manga) Decent
Buddha (manga) Very good
Chikyu Misaki (manga) Good
Cowboy Bebop (manga) Not really good
Take all of the fun, style and substance away from the anime, and you're left with the palest imitation of Bebop short of fan-fiction. It seems to be impossible for a manga adaption of an anime to even be up the level set by the original.
Cowboy Bebop Shooting Star (manga) Awful
Like the other Bebop manga adaption, except even worse. Tries to reboot the story, but completely fails.
Cross Epoch (manga) Decent
Dainippon Tengutou Ekotoba (manga) Excellent
Dance Till Tomorrow (manga) Good
Dead End (manga) So-so
Dead Flowers (manga) Good
Death Note (manga) So-so
Digimortal (manga) So-so
Disappearance Diary (manga) Very good
A Distant Neighborhood (manga) Excellent
Doing Time (manga) Decent
Dolis (manga) Good
Domu (manga) Masterpiece
See comments in the Top Ten section.
Dragon Head (manga) Very good
(The) Drifting Classroom (manga) Excellent
This manga is by a now 70-something man-child who has his own brand of shoes, was challenged by neighbors for building an impossibly ugly red-and-white striped house, has his own YouTube channel and appears on Japanese talks shows, occasionally singing English songs with astonishing clarity and passion. I mean, sure, I could talk about how The Drifting Classroom is one of the nuttiest and most exciting tales, let alone horror stories, you will ever read in your life. Or how it's a highly-regarded manga by a man who had a horror award in Japan named after him. But when it's the product of someone whose interests and imagination lies with a demographic that's only a tenth of his age, I think that's enough of a compelling recommendation.
Eagle (manga) Good
Editor Woman (manga) Decent
Emerald (manga) Good
Emma (manga) Excellent
Erica Sakurazawa Collected Works (manga) So-so
ES (manga) Good
Eyeshield 21 (manga) Good
FLCL (manga) Decent
Flowers & Bees (manga) Good
Fuguruma-kan Raihōki (manga) So-so
Full Metal Panic! (manga) Decent
Gedatsu Man (manga) Not really good
Genshiken (manga) Very good
GoGo Monster (manga) Excellent

Man. After just one reading, I know I'm unable to deliver any sort of proper review for this. But what the hell.

The story follows Yuki Tachibana, a very internalized, eccentric third grader, and his growing friendship with Makoto Suzuki, one of the few human characters in the story that does not ostracize Yuki and attempts to gain a kind of understanding with him. The two other key characters are Ganz, an elderly caretaker that recognizes Yuki's position -- where, unlike the others, he is not a skeptic of The Other Side that the boy describes -- and IQ, an acute fifth grader with a box over his head, allowing one peephole to see the world outside of himself. Yuki contends at different points in the book with various choices: whether the monsters he sees are real or hallucinatory, and if real, whether he can hold onto communicating with Them, a group of good monsters, and also protect himself from The Others, a group of destructive ones. These and others threads, such as IQ's search for a white rabbit, all flow into each other in the otherworldly 120 page climax.

Going in, I wasn't sure whether this would be more akin to Taiyo Matsumoto's long-form works (Tekkon Kinkreet, Ping Pong) or his more bizarre short stories and opaque narratives (Brothers of Japan, No. 5). Despite the wild third act, it's firmly grouped with the former, most directly invoking Tekkon Kinkreet: Yuki reesembles White; Makoto, Black; Ganz, the grandfather character; the troubling awareness of two different worlds that children experience as they grow older, torn between that of childhood of adulthood; the importance of human connections; etc. If these sound like crude simplifications, they are; it's also important that Matsumoto inverts these ideas, where here the anchor is Makoto, and it is Yuki who directly faces the surrealistic descent into himself and The Other Side. Even then my word choice isn't entirely accurate, either, for it's ascending through the school to a floor that doesn't exist that Yuki reaches The Other Side. This kind of duality is reflected everywhere in the narrative, whether in the repetitions (why Yuki likes the school office in the summer and winter) or in IQ' ambiguous relationship with Yuki and his almost metafictional actions and words in the narrative itself.

Beyond all that, though, is an emotional narrative for the first three seasons (and much of the beginning of winter) of the school year, with elliptical storytelling that becomes slightly grounded with the inclusions of dates. This already shows a stark difference in approach that Matsumoto takes from most manga-ka out there; after all, the story itself could be told in one-quarter or even one-tenth of the total pages (about 460, technically), but the sense of time and progression, as well as reflection (a lot of elementary school memories came back as I read this). Compared to the final product here, a shortened version would just dull the impact.

It's pretty much redundant to say that Matsumoto's art is amazing, but he really outdoes himself here: it has the same refinement of Ping Pong, and the more ambitious scenes (IQ "dissolving" and his photorealistic eye; Makoto's first daydream and his entrance onto the many rooms of the fifth floor) better the best portions of Tekkon Kinkreet. The dozen or so darkened pages in the climax don't even bother me, as the eyes, faces and monstrous shapes are defined just enough to give detail, while also anticipating the feeling of liberation when we arrive at the wide open finish.

I'm not sure where I'd rank GoGo Monster against Matsumoto's masterpieces (Hanaotoko and the aforementioned 90s works), but that seems irrelevant; it's simply a damn good book that's required reading for anyone interested in genuinely unique storytelling. I know I'll be reading it again and again.

Gon (manga) Very good
Gon is the cutest bad-ass dinosaur you will ever lay eyes on, and the art is some of the best drawn in manga. Luckily, Tanaka's writing is also up for the challenge, delivering some of the best purely visual storytelling in the comics medium.
Good-Bye (manga by Y. Tatsumi) Very good
Goth (manga) Decent
Grey (manga) Bad

It's like reading a plot summary with pictures. Same thing applies to another "early" Viz title, Aqua Knight.

Gyo (manga) Not really good
Hallucination from the Womb (manga) Very good

Kitoh sure likes them lolis.

Hanaotoko (manga) Masterpiece
See comments in the Top Ten section.
Happiness (manga by Furuya) Very good
Heartbroken Angels (manga) So-so
Heartless Bitch (manga) Good
Hellsing (manga) Very good
Helter Skelter (manga) Masterpiece
Hotel Harbour View (manga) Very good
Ice Blade (manga) Decent
(The) Ice Wanderer (manga) Good
Ichi the Killer (manga) Good
Japan (manga by K. Miura) Awful
Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators (manga) Excellent
Jisatsu Circle (manga) Good
(The) Journey of Shuna (manga) Good
Jr (manga) Decent
Ju-On: Video Side (manga) Bad
K no Souretsu (manga) Good
Kabocha to Mayonnaise (manga) Very good
Kanojo no Omoide... (manga) Excellent

Before Katsuhiro Otomo squandered his talent and career directing anime movies, he was foremost a comics artist. Having made over 100 short stories in addition to his serializations, Otomo's body of work remains largely unrepresented in the English fandom. I've read two of the four titles that Dark Horse brought over: his most well-knowned and well-received series, Domu: A Child's Dream and Akira. The other two -- Hipira and The Legend of Mother Sarah, both drawn by different artists -- never caught my eye. Until 2007, I was unaware that there were any other titles of his available in English, and it would not be until late 2008 that I'd finally find it: Memories (Jp. Kanojo no Omoide..., lit. Memories of Her...), published in Europe by Mandarin Paperbacks.

The collection contains some of Otomo's other critically-successful titles, Memories (which would be later loosely adapted by Koji Morimoto and Satoshi Kon), Farewell to Weapons and Fireball, supported by other lesser-known endeavours that range from creative to forgettable. Rather than attempt a rough summation, here's a blow-by-blow:

Sound of Sand - Otomo remarks that he phoned this one in and can't remember anything about it. Ends with a B-horror twist, but doesn't really do anything for its allotted eight pages.

Hair - A parody of one of the later shorts in the collection, Fireball. Set in a utopia with throwbacks to the 60s and 70s hippie movement and riots, with hard, psychadelic and progressive rock references aplenty. Otomo tosses in a few interesting twists in the climax.

Electric Bird Land - Almost a thematic and tonal continuation of Hair. Provides a nice chase scene and ending.

Minor Swing - One of the stand-outs. The protagonist, a fishermen, falls overboard and gets separated from his friends, left alone to swim through the tar-like waters. Can only be described as a comical horror tragedy. Also manages a rare feat in anime and manga: establishing an environmentalist stance without useless and meandering finger-wagging.

That's [sic] Amazing World, Parts I-IV - Otomo's hilarious takes on Western stories. Tackles Aladdin, the finale to Noah's Arc, Ernest Hemmingway's The Old Man and the Sea and Knights of the Round Table -- the latter two appear as the final shorts in the collection.

Memories - Radically different from the segment in the film, bearing only superficial differences in the setting. More of a straightforward sci-fi thriller than the surrealist take that Morimoto and Kon developed. Still manages to flow well in spite of not measuring up to its adaption.

Flower - The first story Otomo created after reading Moebius. Painted. Only appeal is the design of the isolated technology amidst the desert.

Farewell to Weapons - War story set in a seemingly deserted city, eventually growing into a life-or-death struggle between humans and an enemy robot. Ends on one of the most absurdly funny notes possible.

Chronicle of the Planet Tako, Parts I and II - The book bizarrely puts the sequel ahead of the original story. Both detail the development of the title planet's history. Cute placement of evolution and revolution, but nothing impactful.

Fireball - The centerpiece and most important tale here. Otomo states that the idea for Domu came while writing this, and it's easy to see how; many of the elements that epitomize that masterpiece are seen here, with psychics, tightly-designed infastructures, characters driven by more base desires rather than for the greater good, and lots of discourse and explosions.

The Japanese edition is sadly out-of-print -- though a quick check on eBay shows that copies occasionally pop up -- and the English version (which was also apparently released in Australia by Random House) is difficult to obtain without coughing up ridiculous amounts of cash. For those interested, I'll leave the ISBN numbers here:

ISBN-10: 0749396873; ISBN-13: 978-0749396879

Kare Kano (manga) Good
Keep on Vibrating (manga) Very good
If David Lynch were a comics artist instead of a film director, he might have done something like this. Surreal, almost otherworldly collection of shorts that flirt with and occasionally plunge headfirst into totalitarian themes and atmosphere. The black humor and rare happy ending are thankfully enough to keep the paranoia and darkness from overwhelming the reader.
Kiiroi Hon (manga) Good
King of Wolves (manga) Not really good
Kokuhaku -CONFESSION- (manga by K Kawaguchi) Good
Kokumin Quiz (manga) Very good
Kurogane (manga) Decent
Lament of the Lamb (manga) So-so
Last Quarter (manga) Very good
(The) Life of Momongo (manga) Decent
Lilim Kiss (manga) Weak
Lone Wolf and Cub (manga) Very good
Lost World (manga) Weak
Love Hina (manga) Not really good
Somewhat charming for the first couple volumes, but then Akamatsu redefines repetition for the remaining twelve. He draws clean lines, at least.
Love Roma (manga) Very good
Love Song (manga) Very good
Maison Ikkoku (manga) Very good
Mariko Parade (manga) Good
Mars (manga) Very good
Mars Gaiden (manga) Decent
Mermaid Forest (manga) Decent
Mermaid's Gaze (manga) Decent
Mermaid's Scar (manga) Decent
Message to Adolf (manga) Very good
Metropolis (manga) So-so
Mikai no Hoshi (manga) Very good
Misaki de Bus o Orita Hito (manga) Masterpiece
Monokuro Kinderbook (manga) Excellent
Monster (manga) Very good
Mutant Hanako (manga) Not really good
MW (manga) Good
Nasu (manga) Very good
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (manga) Masterpiece
See comments in the Top Ten section.
Neji (manga) Weak
Neji-Shiki (manga) Very good
Net Sphere Engineer (manga) So-so
Nextworld (manga) So-so
Nijigahara Holograph (manga) Masterpiece
Noise (manga) Decent
Not Simple (manga) Excellent
Nothing But Loving You (manga) So-so
Ode to Kirihito (manga) Very good
Ohikkoshi (manga) Excellent
Paradise Kiss (manga) Very good
Parasyte (manga) Excellent
A Patch Of Dreams (manga) Very good
Phoenix (manga) Very good
Ping Pong (manga) Masterpiece
See comments in the Top Ten section.
Planetes (manga) Excellent
Please Save My Earth (manga) Very good
Pluto (manga) Good
Pochiyama at the Pharmacy (manga) Decent

An amusing diversion. ABe's sense of humor clicks with me.

Pokémon (manga) Not really good

I don't think a rating is really warranted here. I mean, I'm attempting to be less subjective (or, as the ignorant say, "objective") by giving it a "Not really good" while rekindling the memories of what is, in retrospect, a slapdash product that doesn't flesh out the world, giving snapshots of a Japanese cartoon that is only meant as an advertisement for a children's larger franchise.

Despite this, I still have a nostalgic fondness for the series; in fact, this is where Japanese comics were introduced to me. Even though I wasn't even aware of the term "manga" at the time, there was a recognition that this was distinctly foreign (as with the first anime I watched). Coming in the pamphlets with those videos as a sort of cross-promotion -- as Viz handled the distribution of the anime series, and apparently still does -- I read an issue involving Ash and Brock reuniting with the latter facing off against Sabrina for a gym badge. The tonal direction then takes a 180 and becomes a ghost story, suitably with ghost Pokémon. I still remember being disturbed by these images as an eight-year-old: Sabrina's disembodied torso, along with the presence of a giant, purely evil Haunter, essentially capturing her soul. That this ends unresolved in the lone pamphlet issue bothered me a hell of a lot until I actually collected the entire series in volume-form sometime later.

Still, there is a sort of interesting quality and subdued insanity to the proceedings, particularly for what is a cash-in on an advert. Toshihiro Ono's art bounces back and forth between exaggerated clichés and surprisingly effective designs. He actually establishes a sort of menacing, visceral look to what would obviously be the more dangerous, monstrous creatures (which is largely why the Haunter story affected my psyche at that age). Just as easily, he flips back to the typical compositions and fluff that is commonly found in manga, including emphasis on breasts and asses. Indeed, a quick search shows that Ono also illustrates hentai manga. That an ero artist was brought on to draw a Pokémon manga speaks for itself.

Yet, it is also that sort of absurdity that maintains consistent through the whole work. The earlier Pokémon episodes in Kanto had a sort of dartboard-like quality to them as the writers took whatever stuck. This isn't to say that they are actually good, per se, but the script never adhered to an absolute formula for every episode (the excursion with the St. Anne I remember exemplifying both the positives and negatives of this). Judging from what I briefly saw while channel surfing during my early teenage years, the series seems to have lost this element -- whether it's the removal of the Japanese culture or knowing goofiness that redeems the beginning of the anime.

Thankfully, though, this specific incarnation never devolves into that kind of repetitious commercial. There's valid attempts at comedy; talks of Damnation (seriously); Ash isn't asexual; blood is spilt; Clefairy receive a substantive mythology; a man charges across a sea port to take on Team Rocket (seriously); et cetera. Most important of all, though, this thing never overstays its welcome. Four volumes and we cover the Kanto League and the Orange Islands, finishing on an original epilogue. It's a very fitting ending -- with an interesting development from Team Rocket's end -- and, in stark contrast to the anime, relents a satisfying closure for the characters and readers alike.

And I've just realized I've given an extensive write-up about a Pokémon manga.

PositioN (manga) Very good
Pretty Face (manga) Decent
Punctures (manga) Good
(The) Push Man and Other Stories (manga) Very good
Ragnarok (manhwa) Awful
RahXephon (manga) Bad
Raiden-18 (manga) So-so
Red Snow (manga) Decent
Ristorante Paradiso (manga) Very good
River's Edge (manga) Excellent
Route 20 (manga) Decent
(The) Rules of Love (manga) Decent
Rurouni Kenshin (manga) Decent
Ryuguden (manga) Good
Saikano (manga) Very good
Samurai Champloo (manga) Not really good
Sand Land (manga) Not really good
Sexy Voice and Robo (manga) Excellent
Shadow Star (manga) Very good
Shirley (manga) Decent
I love Mori's self-awareness upon reflection of her early days as a manga-ka.
Short Cuts (manga) Good
Short Program (manga) Very good
Short Program 2 (manga) Very good
Smuggler (manga) Good
Solanin (manga) Excellent
Sugar Sugar Rune (manga) Decent

The page and panel compositions are fucking messes. Anno must be affected by editors, because I have no fucking clue how this results from someone that has made Flowers and Bees and Hataraki Man.

Sumire no Hana (manga) Good
Sweat & Honey (manga) Decent
Swing Shell (manga) Very good
Tanpenshu (manga) Excellent
Tekkonkinkreet (manga) Masterpiece
See comments in the Top Ten section.
Telepathic Wanderers (manga) Decent
They Were Eleven (manga) Excellent
To Terra (manga) Decent
Tokyo Zombie (manga) Good
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms (manga) Masterpiece
Trash (manga, Sanami Matoh) So-so
Trigun (manga) So-so
Tropic of the Sea (manga) Good
Tropical Citron - Psychedelic Witch Story (manga) Very good
Try! Try! Try! (manga) Very good
Ultra Maniac (manga) Decent
Uzumaki (manga) Decent
Voyeur (manga) Not really good
The sexual perversion found in Ichi the Killer and Homunculus are here, but none of their qualities. Compared to those highly decompressed, utterly insane stories, this is embarrassing.
(The) Walking Man (manga) Very good
Wanted! - Oda Eiichiro Tanpenshu (manga) Decent
Welcome to the N.H.K. (manga) Decent
What a wonderful world! (manga) Good
Who Fighter with Heart of Darkness (manga) Good
Witches (manga) Masterpiece
See comments in the Top Ten section.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (manga) Masterpiece
See comments in the Top Ten section.
Yukiko's Spinach (manga) So-so
Zetman (manga 1994) Awful
Zombie Powder (manga) Weak
Loading next article...