manga bookshelf

Arata: The Legend, Vols. 1-6

By Yuu Watase | Published by VIZ Media As a fan of Yuu Watase’s shoujo classic, Fushigi Yûgi, I expected that I would like Arata: The Legend, her first shounen series. Turns out, I had underestimated my enjoyment: I really like it! The story begins in a world known as Amawakuni, where the child-like princess […]

From the stack: Maoh: Juvenile Remix vols. 4 and 5

The good news: there’s nothing wrong with Maoh: Juvenile Remix (Viz) that Kazuya Minekura couldn’t fix. The bad news: Maoh: Juvenile Remix was created by Megumi Osuga. Maoh, based on a story by Kotaro Isaka, has an interesting plot. A corporation is undertaking a neighborhood revitalization plan that basically involves razing the place and displacing […]

5 Reasons to Read InuYasha

InuYasha was the first comic that I actively collected, the manga that introduced me to the Wednesday comic-buying ritual and the very notion of self-identifying as a fan. Though I followed it religiously for years, trading in my older editions for new ones, watching the anime, and speculating about the finale, my interest in the […]

The Best Manga You’re Not Reading: Kekkaishi

I have a challenge for all you Shonen Jump readers: pick up a copy of Kekkaishi. It may not be as sexy as Death Note, or as goofy as One Piece, or as battle-focused as Bleach, but what it lacks in flash, it makes up in heart, humor, and good old-fashioned storytelling. The premise of […]

Hyde & Closer, Vol. 1

Move over, Chucky — there’s a new doll in town. His name is Hyde, and he’s a stuffed bear who wears a fedora, chomps cigars, and wields a chainsaw. (More on that in a minute.) Hyde belongs to thirteen-year-old Shunpei Closer, a timid junior high school student whose biggest talent is avoiding conflict. Watching Shunpei […]

One Piece, Vols. 1-3

Monkey D. Luffy wants to be the king of the pirates, but after accidentally eating the mysterious Gum-Gum fruit, his body turns to rubber, ensuring he’ll never be able to swim! Nothing deters Luffy, though, and soon he’s headed off to seek his fortune in the footsteps of his idol, Captain “Red-Haired” Shanks. His goal? To make his way through the infamous Grand Line to seek the greatest pirate treasure of all time, One Piece.

The series’ first three volumes follow Luffy on a series of adventures as he attempts to gather a crew for his trek. Using his rubber-man skills (which come with special names like “gum-gum pistol”) he manages to defeat a corrupt navy captain and two cruel, selfish pirate captains with the help of the crew members he picks up along the way. “Cruel” and “selfish” are key words here, because what sets Luffy and his crew apart from the other pirates they meet is their lack of interest in pillaging and intimidating ordinary folk in order to get what they want.

Black Butler, Vols. 1-2

Sebastian Michaelis is the dashing, fantastically capable, devoted butler of the Phantomhive family, whose only son (junior high-aged Ciel) has commanded the estate and its businesses since the demise of his parents. Sebastian performs his duties with super-human strength and skill, able to create elaborate chocolate sculptures and fight off scores of assassins in a single breath. “I am the butler of the Phantomhive family. It goes without saying that I can manage something as trivial as this,” is the standard line (with variations).

Two by Inoue: Slam Dunk & Real

Tomomi Nomiya is a high school dropout, consumed by guilt over his involvement in a motorcycle accident that leaves a young woman without the use of her legs. Kiyoharu Togawa is a former junior high runner whose struggle with bone cancer costs him his right leg below the knee. Hisanobu Takahashi is a high school basketball hotshot who becomes paralyzed from the chest down after colliding with a truck while riding a stolen bicycle. What these three teens all have in common is a passion for basketball.

Introducing Shonen Sundays

Yesterday saw the first posts in a new month-long series, Shonen Sundays, a joint project with Michelle Smith of Soliloquy in Blue. To quote her introductory post:

“Melinda Beasi (of Manga Bookshelf) and I have often talked about our ardent love for shounen manga … Unfortunately, our conversations have been somewhat limited because neither of us has read the other’s favorite series. With that in mind, the idea for Shounen Sundays was born.

Here’s how it works: each Sunday in June, Melinda and I will post a review of a shounen manga that is new to us, two that are among the other’s favorites and two of our own choosing.”

Arata: The Legend, Vols. 1-2

In a world full of magic and gods, young Arata of the Hime Clan has been framed for the murder of his people’s beloved princess and is now on the run from her twelve godlike “protectors” who actually committed the crime. Arata Hinohara is a modern-day schoolboy just entering high school, where a bully from his past threatens to ruin the new friendships he’s just begun to form. When otherworld Arata flees into an enchanted forest in order to evade his pursuers, the two Aratas suddenly change places, each finding himself in a truly foreign world.

Though much of the story’s setup and look will be very familiar to fans of Watase’s well-known shojo epic Fushigi Yugi (and its currently-running prequel, Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden), Arata: The Legend has considerable charm of its own. By exchanging her “schoolgirl in a strange land” for a schoolboy in a strange land, Watase plays right into her greatest strengths–period-inspired fantasy, action sequences, and pretty young men.

Short Takes: Haunted House, Mermaid Saga, and School Zone

Boo! This week, I’m taking the highly imaginative step of writing about spooky manga. The twist? All three titles are penned by trailblazing female artists. First up is Mitsukazu Mihara’s Haunted House (Tokyopop), a comedy about a normal teen whose parents have clearly embraced Addams Family Values. Next on the agenda is Rumiko Takahashi’s Mermaid […]

Rin-Ne, Vol. 1

I read a Rumiko Takahashi manga for the same reason I watch an Alfred Hitchcock thriller: I know exactly what I’m going to get. Certain plot elements and motifs recur throughout each artist’s work — Hitchcock loves pairing a brittle blond with a rakish cad on the run from authorities, for example, while Takahashi loves pairing […]