Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Great Manga Gift Guide

It's that time of year again! While there are some great gift guides out there, those that focus on graphic novels have seen fit to ignore manga entirely (for shame!). So, to rectify the situation, manga readers across the blogosphere are suggesting great manga for gift-giving this holiday season. While my list didn't make the Black Friday deadline, I figured better late than never!

After some consideration, I've decided to give suggestions via genre, pointing others in the direction of a similar manga. The series I've included have 10 or fewer volumes available in English or are manga that can be purchased individually. Links to my reviews of these series are posted where available.

Without further ado, here are my suggestions:

For the adrenaline junkie: these are the folks that like an adrenaline rush -- from superheroes to ninjas to government conspiracy, they're looking for a fast-paced story with some intrigue, bloodshed or explosions along the way:

Dororo: Orphaned as a baby, Hyakkimaru has struggled his entire life due to a curse placed on him by his father. Roaming the countryside, he kills demons in order to restore his body to its true form.
Parasyte: Parasitic aliens have invaded Earth and are latching on to human hosts. When teenage Shinichi is incorrectly infected, he finds himself at odds with his body's new occupant.

For the comedian: being serious is oh-so-boring for these folks. So give 'em what they want -- a good laugh!

Detroit Metal City: Country bumpkin Soichi dreams of starting his own pop band one day. Only problem is, he's the lead singer of one of Tokyo's hottest death metal bands!
Honey and Clover: A group of art college students come of age in this manga that mixes unrequited love with slapstick comedy.
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service: Five starving college students with a special gift for helping the dead start a business together in this funny, if at times creepy, series.

For the drama addict: so maybe goofy giggles aren't your thing. If what you crave is bittersweetl drama or quietly and poignantly told stories, look no further than these manga.

Children of the Sea: It's summer vacation and Rika, a young girl, is in for a boring one after getting in trouble at school. But that all changes when two boys born from the sea enter her life and bring mystery with them.
Emma: In Victorian Era England, Emma, a maid, falls in love with a man from a well-to-do family. Is there love destined to fail, or can she rise above her social standing and marry the one she loves?
Ooku: The Inner Chambers: In this historical alternate universe, a virus has killed 75 percent of the male population, leaving women in charge of everything -- including the shogunate.

For the fantasy lover: these folks can find reality over-rated at times. So, why not indulge in "what if" stories that range from traditional fantasy to supernatural stories?

Apothecarius Argentum: Princess Primula's fictional kingdom is under seige when her former food taster, Argent, re-enters her life. As these two fall in love, just what does their future hold?
Two Flowers for the Dragon: The love life of Shakuya, heiress to the Dragon Clan (who can turn into a dragon herself), has just gotten complicated when her old fiance returns after a long absence. Only problem is, she's already gotten engaged to someone else!
Yokaiden: Yokai-loving Hamachi ventures into the yokai realm when a yokai, or demon, kills his grandmother. Just what will Hamachi encounter on his journey and will he ever find his grandmother's killer?

For the foodie: for those that love cooking and eating, learning the story of their food is an important part of the process. These tales promise to tickle the tastebuds and the mind!

Antique Bakery: It seems innocuous enough when Tachibana decides to open a traditional French bakery. But, things are not as they seem in this comedic food manga with a serious underlying plot.
Oishinbo: A reporter is on a quest to find the perfect Japanese meal -- from rice to sake to ramen and gyoza, there's a taste of everything for everyone. This series is "a la carte" and each volume stands alone.

For the indie types: mainstream is so...well, uh, mainstream. Whether it's hole-in-the-wall bars that no one else knows about to that up-and-coming band you just have to hear, these folks are independent spirits in every way.

Sexy Voice and Robo: Sexy Voice is Nico, a teenage girl and phone club operator, and Robo is toy robot-collecting 20-something Iichiro. Together, they solve random mysteries and petty crimes.
Red-Colored Elegy: Ichiro is an unhappy artist, as is his girlfriend Sachiko. Depression, death and the quarter-life crisis are explored in this alternative comic.


  1. Sexy Voice and Robo is a great blast from the past. Thanks for posting this wonderful list.

    Ed Sizemore

  2. @Ed: Glad you liked it! Sexy Voice and Robo is such a great, one-volume series that I couldn't help including it. Here's to hoping Iou Kuroda returns to these characters someday!