It's that time of year again where everyone puts out their "best of" list. Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list of the best new manga series released in 2009 -- I don't know anyone who has read everything that came out this year and I'm certainly not one of them. This is simply a list of the best new series that I happened to read and review this year. So, read through and let me know what you think!
Children of the Sea: This series was the first published online as part of Viz's new IKKI website. I was immediately drawn in by the realistic art and the mystery behind Sora's and Umi's connection to the sea. This is a series that quietly sucks you in deeper and deeper, much like the tide along the ocean's edge. While I haven't reviewed the online chapters in some time, I've been able to keep up with this intriguing mystery. Children of the Sea is available in the U.S. from Viz.
Detroit Metal City: DMC is a laugh-out-loud comic filled with obscenity and profanity -- and I loved every minute of it! This series doesn't take itself seriously, but it does take the business of satire seriously. In a send-up of death metal bands, Soichi is a pop-loving, sweet country bumpkin who is also lead singer of Tokyo's raging death metal band, Detroit Metal City. While I haven't gotten around to the second or third volumes, I will be doing so soon! Detroit Metal City is available in the U.S. from Viz.
The Name of the Flower: Quietly poignant while illustrating the depth to which some people sink emotionally, this story is about love's power to save people just as much as it is about the main characters' depression. With reclusive writer Kei and teenage schoolgirl Chouko growing closer each day, how will they resolve their unexpected love story, or is a tragic ending truly too fitting? If you've tired of formulaic shojo romance, then please pick up this manga. The Name of the Flower is available in the U.S. from CMX.
Ooku: The Inner Chambers: In this period piece featuring an alternate history of Japan, woman literally rule. By turning the tables on men, interesting parallels are drawn and a medical mystery begins. Fumi Yoshinaga's latest work is heavy on the narration, but the characters are unsurprisingly compelling. If you're yet to explore this prolific mangaka's work, this is a great introductory series! Ooku: The Inner Chambers is available in the U.S. from Viz.
RIN-NE: While it's yet to be seen if this will be as popular as Rumiko Takahashi's older works, there's certainly a great foundation laid in this comedic shonen manga where a "sort of" shinigami and his classmate Sakura help the undead move on to the other side. While it took me awhile to get into this story, I'm glad I've kept up with it online via Viz's Rumic World website. RIN-NE is available in the U.S. from Viz.
Venus Capriccio: Tomboyish Takami gets dumped by her latest boyfriend, when her best friend, pretty boy Akira, tells her how he really feels. In a parallel to their piano duets, this pair deepens their relationship as they learn how to play together. I was pulled in by the quiet tension in this sweetly romantic shojo story. Venus Capriccio is available in the U.S. from CMX.
Yotsuba&!: While some might quibble over whether or not this is "new," I couldn't help but add it to the list. Yen Press picked up this previously lapsed ADV license and published seven volumes of the wacky adventures of the ever-goofy, green-haired, 6-year-old Yotsuba, including the first five volumes originally released by ADV. If my experience is any indication, Yotsuba's childhood innocence and vivid imagination will have you giggling in no time! Yotsuba&! is available in the U.S. from Yen Press.