SEAN: This week is a bit light on stuff, so it’s a good time for the pick of the year. I’ve already talked about Silver Spoonin other end of year wrapups, so let me take the time to praise two other series I love to bits, both from Viz: The Promised Neverland and Yona of the Dawn. Each are the top of their genre, shonen and shoujo respectively, and also great manga for teens.
MICHELLE: If someone had asked me to name the best shounen and shoujo series that I read this year, I would have the exact same picks as Sean (with My Hero Academia and Takane & Hana as runners-up). So, instead I’ll highlight my favorite josei and seinen releases of the year—Chihayafuru and Giant Killing, both brought to us by Kodansha’s digital-first initiative. It’s been really neat to see sports manga from a more grown-up perspective, and I recommend each series heartily.
ASH: When it comes to the end of the year, I usually try to get away with picking a publisher as a whole. This year, Seven Seas has continued to impress me with the variety found in its catalog, everything from autobio comics like The Bride Was a Boy, to classics like Devilman (in multiple incarnations), to the publisher’s first BL offering Go For It, Nakamura!, and so much more.
ANNA: The titles that first came to mind for me for pick of the year were Water Dragon’s Bride and Yona of the Dawn, truly excellent shoujo series. It has been a great year of shoujo in general, and I’m also thankful that we are also getting titles like Ao Haru Ride translated in English. I finally got around to reading three volumes of Inio Asano’s Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction last night and thought it was amazing. I’m going to recommend Dead Dead Demon as my pick for the year.
KATE: I agree with Ash: my pick of the year is not a series but a publisher. Seven Seas has emerged as one of the boldest US publishers, licensing classic and queer-friendly manga, all while keeping their original readership happy by providing a steady stream of monster girl series and light novels. The company’s monthly licensing survey is another brilliant strategy, as it gives fans a say in what Seven Seas publishes. So my hat’s off to Seven Seas!
MJ: There’s been a lot to love this year in manga, and like my colleagues, I’m impressed with what Seven Seas has become. But I can’t deny that this year, my heart belongs to Silver Spoon. There’s honestly no other series that’s captured my attention so completely this year. It’s funny, original, and charming in a way that is entirely unique to its creator. I maintain a manga lending library in my voice studio, and I had the pleasure just a week or so ago of introducing Fullmetal Alchemist to a pair of 16-year-old twins for the first time. Since I hadn’t read the series in so long, I gave myself a quick refresher read of the first few volumes, and I was reminded all over again of what a masterful storyteller Hiromu Arakawa is, and how emotionally rich her characters and relationships are. Silver Spoon is obviously a very different manga, but I’m struck by how much her artistry has continued to deepen and mature. Each new volume is an absolute pleasure to read. Silver Spoon has to be my Pick of the Year!