manga bookshelf

Tears and Manga

So, I picked up volume four of Pluto earlier this evening, anxious to dig in to the latest volume of my favorite manga series this year. My plans were dashed less than a chapter in, however, when I became so emotional that I actually had to put it down. Since this volume is new, I’ll avoid any details. Suffice it to say this was a fairly small incident (relative to the scope of the work as a whole) that just happened to hit me unusually hard. This isn’t a fatal issue, of course. I’ll pick it up again once I feel I’ve recovered, perhaps in a less vulnerable moment. Nor is it a criticism of Pluto, by any means. I want to be moved deeply by fiction. That’s why I read it. It’s a powerful testament to the craft of both Tezuka and Urasawa that the series is able to affect me so strongly.

hachi-tears-smWhat this experience brings to mind now as I remain here uselessly in my chair, not quite ready to pick up anything else, is other moments in manga that have brought me to tears. I’ve mentioned several times, for instance, the fact that I sat sobbing for a good half hour after reading volume four of We Were There. That’s a pretty emotionally wrought volume, of course, so I suppose it’s not surprising. Nor, I suspect, would it shock anyone to hear that I’ve shed tears over more than one volume of NANA (volume four, anyone? eight? fifteen?) or that I bawled my eyes out during volume fifteen of Hikaru no Go. More unusual perhaps is the first volume of Her Majesty’s Dog, which got me worked up over the deep pain felt by a dog who was recklessly sacrificed by the woman to whom he’d devoted his entire life. Will I ever fully recover from the final volume of Tokyo Babylon, AKA a hundred and forty-something pages of Moments Guaranteed To Crush Your Soul? What about volume two of Fullmetal Alchemist? The vast majority of Banana Fish? I suspect that I will not.

It’s all rushing back to me now–moments etched so vividly into my brain that I can see them as clearly as if I was staring at the page. I see Nobu crumpled up against Hachi’s bed, begging, “Make up an excuse… even if it’s a lie… I’d believe anything.” I see Hikaru sobbing wretchedly in a room of dusty old kifu, desperate to make a deal with God. “Can we do it over?” he cries at the top of his lungs, not even trying to hold back tears.

Not all these moments are sad, of course. Throughout the last few volumes of Fruits Basket, for example, I shed tears alternately for sadness and joy. NANA has offered a great deal of that as well.

I hesitate to say too much about any of these moments for fear of spoiling them for others, but I admit I’m dying to know what this brings to mind for all of you. So my friends, without giving too much away, which moments in manga have moved you the most? Spoiler-free as possible, please!

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  1. Hmm… I think I tend to cry over more over happier things than sad. The last thing to make me cry was a novel, so I’m trying to think past that, but Yuki’s journey in Fruits Basket and how VERY far he has come makes me cry in practically every volume from, like, fourteen on.

  2. While I’m not certain that it’s the most recent occurrence, this happened to me when I read the first volume of “With the Light,” when Sachiko questions her abilities and adequacy as a mother. For some reason it was a really heart-wrenching moment that touched on some of my own fears and I couldn’t help but cry.

    But, as you mention, that’s what truly good literature does — it touches our souls in such ways that we can’t help but be affected by it. When an author creates authentic characters that you not only sympathize with, but also empathize with, how can your own humanity not respond?

    • I suppose it’s a bit masochistic, but I really love to be hurt by my fiction. :) Not if it doesn’t serve the story, of course, and usually that kind of mistake sucks all the effectiveness out of it anyway, but I think you know what I mean.

      I haven’t read With the Light, though it’s definitely on my list!

  3. I haven’t read much manga in the past couple of years but I will always remember there were several moments in Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou that moved me to tears. Some were moments of sadness, others of joy and still other moments of sheer beauty.

    I completely understand about the masochism. Provided it is not a gratuitous manipulation of my emotions, If I am moved to such lengths as crying or getting intensely angry then the author has done well by me.

  4. I can’t think of many manga that have brought me to tears… I mean, not that I didn’t love and was moved by most of the moments you mentioned… but tears? Maybe Please Save My Earth, during some of the flashbacks to Shion. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I cried a bit at those.

    • I’m very easily brought to tears (by books, movies, television shows—even really embarrassing ones), so I’m sure it happens to me more than most people. :)

      I can’t remember if I ever cried during Please Save My Earth, but I’d be surprised if I didn’t!

  5. I think tears, or simply an emotional response, are an aspect of book that makes it a little more… personal. I tend to feel a little more connected to a book, movie, anime, or manga when it moves me. I also find it a sign of a good author/artist/mangaka when my emotions are roused (positively or negatively).

    I’ve cried during Fushigi Yūgi (ep 33 anyone?), pieces of Tokyo Crazy Paradise, and the ending to Paradise Kiss. Same goes for my sister. I can remember her walking into my room after finishing Kara First Love, tears streaming down her face, to tell me what a happy ending it had.

  6. I didn’t used to cry at fiction I was reading. The first time I can remember was reading Dragon Dawn and Telgar was saying goodbye to her husband.

    I didn’t cry at any manga until I started reading Shojo Beat, not long after the birth of my second child. One chapter of Baby & Me sent tears running down my cheeks (and I was at work at the time too). The other manga was Sand Chronicles v1. It did it to me twice!

    • Shojo manga is the killer, really. And now you’ve gotten my psyched to finally dig into Sand Chronicles!

      • I’ve followed Sand Chronicles since it started in SB, but I don’t remember the chapters affecting me. It was only after I read the vol that I got all choked up, which does say something for collected vs magazine reading. Those collected vol. can really give you a punch!

  7. I rarely cry at fiction, but One Piece has made me tear up twice. Wait, three times. All three were animal-related (if you count Going Merry-gou as an animal). That tends to be what makes me tear up the most, even in non-fiction, stories about animals always affect me more than stories about people.

  8. The biggest cry I’ve ever gotten from a manga is Barefoot Gen Volume 1. I somehow managed not to become a mess on the bus, but when I came home and finished the volume, the floodgates opened. And I still have not read volume 2. I’m waiting for when my heart is particularly strong.

    Others … Boku-tama of course (the early volumes are so humorous than it really sneaked up on me), Rose of Versailles, Glass Mask … the Glass Mask scene that really made me cry was a train-wreck of good intentions. I could see it coming, but I had no idea that the consequences were going to be so drastic.

  9. I think I cried hardest at the end of Paradise Kiss, and I’ve re-read that series so many times and still cry pretty hard every time I get to that last double-page spread. Ai Yazawa does it to me in general, as I’m sure it’s happened more than once in Nana and I teared up two or three times during Neighborhood Story.

    I’ve also cried at certain parts again and again through the two or three times I’ve read Let Dai.

    I’m also sure I’ve shed a few tears while reading We Were There, and I’ve probably teared up at least a few times through One Piece, though that series is more guilty of purposeful manipulation. The first volume of Dokebi Bride made me cry harder than any other first volume ever.

    Barefoot Gen did it for me, too, but that cry was harder than any of the other ones.

  10. Barefoot Gen definitely.

    Pluto was definitely emotional for me too, sometimes in unusual places.

    Banana Fish definitely killed me with its ending.

    Please Save My Earth Also did a number on me.

    I admit to being a sucker =)

  11. Fruits Basket, volume 16, Kyoko’s story and Katsuya’s death. “He’s not here, he’s not anywhere. Anymore.” It always makes me cry. And the end with Kyoko makes me cry. I mean, it’s such a futile journey, her life, and yet in the end of that whole manga, “Repeat the good and the bad, pile on the years.” and “You did good” There’s somehow some peace in it.

    I just wish she could see that that promise was fullfilled and Kyo could know that was all she ever meant in her last words.

    Anyway, about everything in that manga makes me cry ^^;

    I.S. makes me cry too. Fullmetal alchemist…has never really made me cry. I cried at the start of volume 2 because I knew what was going to happen to Nina just because my brother had told me. But the actual presentation of the story has never made me cry, which makes me wonder when I’ve heard people say the story lacks emotional impact. Yet…reflecting on the stories of FMA makes me sad…but actually reading it has never made me emotional.

  12. I *think* I can honestly say that no manga has ever made me actually cry. It’s hard to make me cry, whether it be a movie, book, or even real life for that matter. However, I can think of some manga that either choked me up, gave me goosebumps, got me teary eyed, or any combination of the three: Fullmetal Alchemist (rather recent events too, not the Nina moment people seem to be bringing), volume 16 of X (not Tokyo Babylon, but that’s probably because I knew what was coming), Nabari no Ou (so many moments too, I’m a lot more invested in the NnO characters than I am in other series’ for some reason,) Loveless, Antique Bakery, xxxHolic & TRC, Kuroshitsuji, volume 7 of Death Note as well as the fate of a certain gun-toting blonde, and Banana Fish (of course).

    For some reason, it’s usually not character death that gets to me so much as it is tragic relationships (ex. Seishirou and Subaru, Yoite and …everyone).

    Usually, I feel worse for the survivors than I do for the battered characters. I usually get a lot more emotional over series that I’ve spent a lot of time on rather than series I’ve blown through. (FMA is the series I’ve followed for the longest and it can have me jumping up in my seat and screaming. On the other hand, I read through Fruits Basket in about a week and though I liked it, it didn’t affect me emotionally even once.)

    The only exception to that rule seems to be Nabari no Ou, (I read every posted scanlated chapter available at the time and watched the entire anime in just three days, my record thus far), which made me stop reading at least a dozen times because I couldn’t bear to go forward. (Goddamn Yukimi always saying stuff that touches me to the bottom of my heart and soul…) I’m eagerly awaiting the releases of the later NnO volumes (only up to three are out so far) so I can make my best friend read them and see her reactions.

    Oh! A lesser-known series that is very emotionally wrenching— With the Light. It’s about the lives of a mother and her autistic child and it’s own of those rare series that can have you smiling your face off on one page and then choked up on the next. (Whenever Hikaru tells someone “Goodbye. Good job.” I just… gah!)

    • Well, I’ll be honest, I frequently get worked up over things that just happen to brush my own issues. Like when I cried for a half an hour over volume three of We Were There? Totally for personal reasons. I definitely personalize what I read and that influences how it affects me.

      I’ll be interested to see if I have the same reaction as you to Nabari no Ou once I get further. I’m only following the official releases, so I’m just through volume three.

  13. There are a lot of manga that have made me cry. And every single on of them are my favorites. But one manga that made me cry in the most unexpected way was From Eroica with Love at the very end of the Emperor Waltz story. I think that made a deep impression on me because it’s not a story that sets out to inspire tears.

    But yeah, lots of tears from most of these manga. Anything by Ai Yazawa, Rurouni Kenshin, Banana Fish, Mars, Tokyo Crazy Paradise, CLAMP, Full Metal Alchemist, Please Save My Earth, Basara, Lovely Complex, Mitsuru Adachi’s stuff,some series by Arina Tanemura and even Itazura na Kiss! And of course, Let Dai, which I just finished reading has had me in tears quite a few times. I also remember crying buckets while reading Kaze Hikaru, Glass Mask, and Goong.

    I’m very tempted to read Sand Chronicles and We Were There, but I’m not the type of person to actively look for something to rip my heart out. But I might try seeing the drama and TV series first.

  14. I definitely agree that the longer you have to wait for installments (as long as it’s not a ridiculously long wait) the more of an impact it has. You’re given more time to become attached the characters, even when they’re not there and then they show up in a new chapter/volume. Basically I agree that if you marathon a series, sometimes you’re affected by it emotionally but the tears don’t quite come out.

    *watch out for spoilers*
    Eyeshield 21 When he finally revealed himself to Mamori…yeah, everyone always laughs at first when I say I cried reading Eyeshield 21 and then reluctantly agrees it touched them too.
    Please Save My Earth The ending, but specifically when Alice finally confessed her feelings. The tears didn’t actually come out but I think it was because I was dehydrated and lacking nutrition and proper rest since I finished these 21 volumes in 3 days, while working long standing shifts. I still don’t know how I accomplished that but my intense marathon should say something about how gripping PSME is.
    Chobits I was young and caught off-guard by CLAMP’s more adult-oriented title and a little embarrassed as I sat in the corner of Borders “browsing”. I probably left behind a little puddle of tears after I finished the ending.
    Hikaru no Go Definitely Vol. 15 for me as well
    Fruits Basket A lot of people have mentioned how they cried several times during Fruits Basket but for me I only wept once. It was one big encompassing-all weepfest though, near the ending when Yuki sets off the chain reaction. The chain reaction really set me off seeing all the members in their separate lives and places suddenly taking a pause and crying. (i – i)
    Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai An older Ai Yazawa title that has not been licensed for the US (yet) but that is my favorite Ai Yazawa title, and I’ve read 3 of her other works. This was one of the few times where I’ve cried in a manga when a character wasn’t crying. When Ken showed up at her house when she was sick, I cried because I couldn’t believe his kindness…
    Honey and Clover I’ll never how I feel about this manga alone because I read the first 5 volumes and then switched to the anime. I didn’t continue the manga until after I had finished the anime which I cried many, many times over. The manga admittedly has its flaws and a slow start. It took me 3 volumes to get hooked and 5 volumes to be sold. But boy was I sold when Takemoto’s health and heart began deteriorating…

    There have been plenty of times in anime where I’ve bawled my eyes out and more times in manga where I have been extremely touched but the list would be even longer. :)


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