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Short yet epic manga recommendations

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Joined: 17 Apr 2011
Posts: 2
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:25 pm Reply with quote
Hi guys! I've been an anime consumer for years but I've always limited myself to anime. Manga seemed like a really expensive and unknown world to me so I mostly steered clear. Basically the only manga I've ever read is Nausicaa.

I'm looking into building a manga collection but I'm mainly looking for series that aren't 100 volumes long. Something I can read and enjoy in the time I would enjoy a regular book.

I've been eyeing manga by Osamu Tezuka, as most, except BlackJack and Phoenix (which I'm seriously considering because I've read they are legendary) are pretty short and can be acquired in single volumes. I'm also interested in getting to know his narrative and how well they stand a few decades later. Any good recommendations? I'm considering Ayako, Princess Knight, MW, Apollo, Book of Human Insects and Kirihito. It helps that they have absolutely gorgeous covers!

Any other recommendations that fit the criteria?

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Joined: 18 Jun 2009
Posts: 915
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:03 pm Reply with quote
A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Such an amazing manga. It's condensed into a single (extremely large) volume too so you don't have to worry about it taking forever to read.

I would also recommend Twin Spica. It's 12 volumes, but it's definitely worth the read.

And everything of Tezuka that you can get your hands on.
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Joined: 22 Mar 2012
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Location: Portugal
PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:03 am Reply with quote
Check out this topic, as it will surely give you a few ideas: Wink
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Joined: 14 Oct 2011
Posts: 384
Location: Middle of Nowhere, USA
PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:24 am Reply with quote
Do you consider 10 volumes short? 10 volumes seems to be a common length for manga. Maoh: Juvenile Remix is a very good and realistic (except for the fantasy elements) modern psychological manga. If 10 volumes is longer than you want, you could try Shoulder-a-Coffin-Kuro. It's far from a masterpiece, but it's a pleasant way to spend an hour or two. It's only 3 volumes long and just came out of a 5 year hiatus. Durarara!! is only 4 volumes long (so far) and its plot and character are definitely unique and well thought out.
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Joined: 09 Aug 2012
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Location: MD
PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:29 am Reply with quote
Paradise Kiss is 5 volumes long and its amazing. It is a shojo manga so if you don't like that kind of thing then you should steer clear. If you're okay with that then this will be a real treat. Its about a group of teenagers trying to be involved in the fashion world. Its very well written and the characters really endear you. It manages to be both funny and at other times very serious and compelling.
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Joined: 28 May 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:30 pm Reply with quote
Azumanga Daioh, the funniest manga out there and its only 4 volumes long. You can buy the Omnibus in stores or you can buy the individual vollumes online. There's also Yotsuba&! My all time favorite manga, it's only got 11 vollumes out in the US but they're soo cute and funny!

Last edited by yotsubafanfan on Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:31 am Reply with quote
Short and epic series worth adding to your collection! I am going to define short as "5 volumes or less" here. And I'm also mostly going to suggest ones that are easy to find (sorry, Planetes)

Uzumaki is by Junji Ito, my favorite horror mangaka (Gyo and Museum of Terror/Tomie are also short series out by him in English). Uzumaki is about a town by the sea slowly being overtaken by spirals. It's infecting the minds of the citizens, and no one notcies anything is wrong except the student who attends school outside of town. It'll make you look at spirals differently afterwards, it's a pretty unsettling work as the town itself slowly seems to develop its own conscious and doesn't want anyone to leave. Ever.

Genkaku Picasso, short series by Usamaru Furuya. Probably his most normal one, considering it's about a kid who draws really well and after a near death experience can draw the evil in people's hearts and dive into the pictures to fix the problems. It's a mix of episode "find evil, draw evil, dive in, fix them" with good twists for the stories too. With every successful painting completed, Picasso finds himself with a new friend too, thus expanding the cast. If you want something weird and messed up, go with Lychee Light Club by the same guy, a manga about just how cruel and insane teenagers can be.

Peepo Choo and MBQ, for OEL. Well only one of them is OEL, Peepo Choo actually ran in Kodansha's Morning 2. MBQ came out first via Tokypop, Peepo Choo came out later by Vertical, and it's a shame PC got cancelled after 3 volumes. Peepo Choo is full of awesome characters, including model Reiko, who is intelligent and wants to be taken seriously, even with H cups, Milton, the American otaku who isn't aware that Japan isn't everyone running around in cosplay, and Morimoto Rockstar, who loves American gangsters and learns all of his information from direct to video movies that are the sort of notoriously bad in America sorts of things (not that he knows), who goes around spouting Engrish at every turn. And as a result of the author being American, he translates it himself, so you know it came out exactly as the author intended on this one. MBQ almost feels like a draft run for Peepo Choo, they both have similar styles of "it seems random but all comes together at the end" storytelling (even with PC getting cancelled, he did a great ending given his time frame), and they both ooze feelings that the guy just likes drawing comics. They're both fantastic and shouldn't be dismissed because the mangaka is American.

Kurogane, lots of titles with "Kurogane", but I'm talking about the one by Kei Toume and released by Del Rey. It's a bit similar to Dororo (covered below), what with a samurai who almost dies and gets lots of artificial parts (so a bit reversed). Still, a unique story that I do recommend.

Mermaid Saga, short four volume series form Rumiko Takahashi, one of the few short things she's done. Well, she also did Rumic Theater, anthologies of short stories varying in quality, though I did enjoy Fire Tripper. Mermaid Saga deals with the promises of immortality from eating the flesh of mermaids. But very few people will get this immortality, most will die horribly, some will be stuck in body horror hybrid states, and some people will do anything just for a chance to try it out and hunt those down who have succeeded in gaining immortality for hopes of learning where they got the flesh. Sadly, there's no real conclusion of any sort, I'd love a few more volumes of this at some point.

Cowa! and Sandland, two one volume series from Dragon Ball Z creator Akira Toriyama. when you read these, you get the feeling for what he actually wanted to be doing instead of creating storylines and character designs for Dragon Ball GT. Though there's not many of his short stories out there, you can tell that he really enjoys making them. Not the most mature works out there, but certainly some of his more fun ones.

Jyu Oh Sei OOP from Tokyopop, but still easy to find. A scifi shojo, it's been made into an anime that follows it pretty closely. It's more actiony then you expect from most shojo, but it's a pretty solid short manga.

To Terra, a really good short shojo/scifi series (ok, it's actually a shonen, but the mangaka is a shojo artist and everything she does feels shojo anyway). I would hate to spoil anything, but it's a 70s shojo, and if you've never read one, this is a great one to start off with. Speaking of 70s shojo:

A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is a one volume glorious hardcover with lots of color pages anthology by another famous 70s shojo artist with works spanning her entire career. Lots of variety and lots of yummy goodness and what is quite possibly the most gorgeous physical manga release I have on my shelf. I keep coming back to it, especially Hanshin/Half-God, the greatest 20 page manga story ever created.

Flower of Life and Antique Bakery, and really anything by Fumi Yoshinaga (Ooku is one of the few series over 4 volumes available in English). Fumi Yoshinaga is just fantastic, I've read all of her stories, both yaoi and non-yaoi, and I don't even like yaoi! But she did it, so I'll read it. Her technique is just so special, she's fantastic at expressions, and also at making just the right twists so that they fit in with the story but are genuinely surprising and/or hilarious. She's fantastic at both comedy and drama and switching between them at the drop of a hat. You could remove all the sex scenes from her yoai and they would be just as sexy! She's a rare and unique treasure among mangaka imo. I have shrines for both her manga and Osamu Tezuka's, those two are the only mangaka that I don't even need to read the description to know I'll buy it.

Ayako, Princess Knight, MW, Apollo's Song, Book of Human Insects, and Ode to Kirihito (since cesca07 specifically asked about them) and Adolf (soon to come out). As someone who owns or has read pretty much every Tezuka manga to come out in English (except Crime and Punishment, I've read Adolf before and will soon own the Vertical releases), I am the right person to ask here. So the question I would say is which is the most worth it?
Ayako, wow is this a messed up manga. It's definitely worth a read, but it's also so dark that it's hard to revist. Maybe wait for the paperback version soon to come out, it will be cheaper, and in the meantime, off to the library with you!
Apollo's Song, probably my least favorite. Maybe if you enjoy romance more, it's more enjoyable, but it's also a romance story without a shred of hope, which is unusual. It has an interesting premise and way of doing romance, some people seem to adore it though (I think it's Ed Chavez' favorite or one of his favorite Tezuka Vertical has put out)
Princess Knight, this manga can be annoying as it can be strangely sexist at times, but if you can get past it, it's a pretty good straightforward action-adventure that happens to have a chick for the main instead. There are some really awesome characters that make this worth reading (sadly none of them are Princess Sapphire herself, but Hecate more than makes up for it)
Book of Human Insects, one of my more favored of the single volume series. Strange little thing about a woman who is freakishly good at imitating just what she likes about people and totally screwing them over. But I did want to re-read this again and enjoyed it quite a bit. IT's dark, but I think Ayako is the darkest easily
MW, ok, probably the second darkest. This involves an actor hellbent on screwing over the world and this one particular priest because of things that happened in his childhood. The mains of this and Human Insects are a bit similar in that they're crazy but appear normal to everyone else. Highly recommended though
Ode to Kirihito, a must buy imo. It's my favorite of all the short Tezuka. It's a really good seinen adventure with an interesting cast of characters, and of course, some of that classic Tezuka "wtf is wrong with these people?!" moments. But it's also probably the most accessible one in my opinion, so it's a great one to start out with. It's a lot of manga, but also probably one of my more re-read ones.
Oh, that's right, Dororo recently got an omnibus re-release. This is a shonen story about a guy whose father gave away the body parts of his unborn baby to fiends. Now the kid is grown up and taking down the fiends, regaining body parts in the process. Yes, you will constantly say things like "an arm and a leg I understand, but how did he live without a heart or liver?" It also got a game, Blood Will Tell, which did come out in the US and should be able to be gotten for cheap on eBay. The manga doesn't have a real conclusion, the video game gives it a pretty good one, no matter how atrocious the voice acting in (it's like they failed to tell people how to pronounce any of the names, so you will hear the same name pronounced like 3 different ways in a single scenes, it's kinda hilarious), and if the jumping mechanic is pure pain. But as a straightforward brawler with good boss fights, it's worth the time for Tezuka fans.
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Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 91
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:01 pm Reply with quote
Pluto. You won't regret it, particularly since you're interested in Osamu Tezuka.

As for Phoenix, it's great, but it's also out of print, so I'd tread warily unless you're willing to overpay for out of print volumes.
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victor viper

Joined: 18 Jun 2011
Posts: 630
Location: The deep south
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:30 pm Reply with quote
I'll throw out a recommendation for Parasyte. It's 8 volumes in length, but i found it to be a pretty quick read (dialogue per unit page is pretty low). Also, since it was published in the 90's, there is a decidedly old-school feel to the art style (which might be to your liking since you mention Black Jack and Phoenix). I found it to be a pretty original take on the alien-invasion genre.
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Village ElderVillage Elder

Joined: 20 May 2008
Posts: 5084
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:55 am Reply with quote
I just got the first volume of Genkaku Picasso yesterday thanks to your recommendation classicalzawa, and it's awesome! The art is quite disturbing at times for a Jump manga Laughing
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