With a distinct lack of new print manga available in stores this week, we thought we’d take the opportunity to recommend a few last-ditch titles from soon-to-expire digital publisher JManga. If you’ve got extra points to spend and are looking for a great, last-minute read, here are a few titles to consider!
|ANNA: I’m always on the lookout for more josei manga, and while I was disappointed in the variety of genres Jmanga offered at its initial launch, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw more Harlequin romance, Ohzora, and josei titles popping up in the months to follow. The title I was most excited to see was the fourth volume of Walkin Butterfly 4. I collected the earlier print volumes and was so happy to be able to read the end of the series on Jmanga. While there are series left unfinished with Jmanga’s closure, I feel it is good to celebrate some of the series that Jmanga finished! Walkin’ Butterfly is the story of a tall misfit tomboy named Michiko who begins to find herself when she accidentally becomes part of the fashion world. Her relationship with the temperamental up and coming designer Mihara changes them both, and the series shows how she transforms herself in an atypical way for an ugly duckling becoming a swan type story. Tamaki’s illustrations convey the world of modeling and fashion in an edgy way – while there are occasional flashes of elegance, this is much grittier than the stylized fashion portrayed in a title like Paradise Kiss.
|SEAN: I think I’ve banged the gong for Wonder! and High School Girls enough, so I’ll note that my favorite aspect of JManga was that they could pick up some of the weirdest titles. Not just normal seinen weird like Ninja Papa or Anesthesiologist Hana, but stuff that no one else would license in a million years. Things like Young-kun, a stick-figure 4-koma that I still don’t think I ever understood, or Edo Nekoe Jubei Otogizoshi, a mystery-solving cat manga from Shonen Gahosha’s magazine of cat manga. And of course there was a pile of yuri titles that fans have been wanting for years, from Love My Life to Poor Poor Lips to YuruYuri. The saddest thing is that there was simply too much content I wanted to read, and I may never get the time to now. But man, it was great content.
|MICHELLE: If there was just one title that I’d recommend people read while they have the chance, it would be est em’s Working Kentauros. Here’s what I said about it in a Going Digital column from last year: “Like the best speculative fiction, est em uses her offbeat “centaurs in the workplace” concept to communicate universal truths. Everyone wants to be free to be themselves, and no one wants to watch someone they love get sick and pass away. Even if they happen to be a centaur. Highly, highly recommended.”
|MJ: Many of my favorite series at JManga are hard to recommend at this juncture, simply because they’re unfinished. As much as I adore titles like Sweet Blue Flowers, Dousei Ai, or Pride, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend that anyone sign themselves up for that kind of heartbreak. One of my long-touted BL favorites, however, is Haruko Kumota My Darling Kitten Hair, which, though unfinished, is so committed to its low-key, slice-of-life format that it’s guaranteed to offer no lingering angst or nail-biting cliffhangers. From my review of the second volume: “It’s so rare to read a BL series (or any relationship-driven story) that is about staying in love rather than falling in love, and there’s a reason for that. It’s hard! As difficult as it can be to write authentic, well-developed romance, much like actual romance, it’s even harder to keep that fire burning after the initial rush of first love. Thankfully, My Darling Kitten Hair stands as a lovely example of how to do exactly that. And it’s a real pleasure to read.” Two volumes are available.
Readers, any last-ditch JManga titles you’d recommend?