SEAN: Technically this should be Manga the Week of 12/24, but that’s merely one title: Vampire Hunter D 22. And tempted as I was to make a “Give her the D for Christmas” joke, that can’t really sustain an entire column. So I’d like to ask the team what they think the important titles of the year were for them this year. New series you fell for? Old series that have ended? Emerging trends?
I’ll start off by picking the third one, and talk about something that isn’t technically manga. Yen Press has been quietly putting out a few light novel series for years, with mild successes such as Book Girl, Kieli, and Spice & Wolf. But 2014 saw the explosion of the Yen On brand, which began with the first Sword Art Online novel and looks in 2015 to be expanding far, far more than anyone had expected. With the promise of approximately 25 volumes for the year 2015, I likely should have waited a year for this. But 2014 was a great start: not only Sword Art Online and its sister series Accel World, but the amazingly popular (and previously thought too big to license) A Certain Magical Index series, and the fantasy romantic comedy Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?. Yen On is determined to put down the myth that “light novels can’t succeed in North America”, and they’re what I was most excited about in 2014.
Runners up: The end of Excel Saga, the Ranma 1/2 re-release, Sailor Moon Crystal (so much excitement, so much disappointment…), Showa, Whispered Words.
MICHELLE: I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I have to say… the manga that I loved most this year is What Did You Eat Yesterday?, by Fumi Yoshinaga. I had wished for this license for years, putting it forth whenever companies (mostly Vertical) would solicit suggestions, and it’s such a tremendous delight to be able to say that now that it’s here, I haven’t been disappointed by it one bit. And, even better, it’s been coming out every two months like clockwork! (I am trying not to think how sad I’m going to be after volume nine comes out in July, at which point we’ll likely be caught up with Japan.) Thank you, Vertical!
Runners up: The end of Dawn of the Arcana, instantly endearing/fascinating new series like My Love Story!! and Black Rose Alice, the influx of really interesting new shoujo from Kodansha, and my continued heart-felt love for Skip Beat! and Natsume’s Book of Friends.
ASH: It’s so hard to choose just one manga, so I’m just going to choose one publisher instead. Fantagraphics has a very small manga line, but I’m always impressed by what it releases. In fact, I count all four volumes of Fantagraphics’ manga published in 2014 among my favorites for the year. I will always be eternally grateful for Takako Shimura’s Wandering Son being translated into English (happily, the editing and quality control for that series seems to be back on track now), I still haven’t been able to get Inio Asano’s Nijigahara Holograph out of my head, and Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It is an incredible collection and groundbreaking work. Rumor has it Fantagraphics is looking to publish even more manga in the future; I can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Runners up: In Clothes Called Fat is one of the best comics I’ve read, My Love Story!! makes me incredibly happy, and Chromatic Press/Sparkler Monthly continues to do some wonderful and marvelous stuff.
MJ: Truth be told, my favorite series this year is the same as Michelle’s. Like her, I’d been waiting anxiously to read What Did You Eat Yesterday? since I first heard of its existence, and (like her) I will be eternally grateful to Vertical for bringing it to me so much sooner than I imagined was possible. I’ve enjoyed every volume of this series so far, and I don’t expect that to change. But in the interest of spreading the love around as far as possible, I’ll use my space here to give a final thank you to Chromatic Press for resurrecting and providing (IN PRINT) the final volume of of Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat. When new chapters began serialization in Sparkler Monthly in 2013, I know that there were still some skeptics who feared we’d never get to see its conclusion. But with the final print volume’s release this year, I hope that even they have come to terms with the value of what Chromatic Press/Sparkler Monthly can (and continues to) offer us—including a new series from Quick, already in serialization now!
Runners up: Continuing to prove the awesomeness of Vertical, Knights of Sidonia is a series I can’t seem to get enough of. And speaking of resurrections, many thanks to Dark Horse for rescuing CLAMP’s Legal Drug from the OOP graveyard. I’m so looking forward to new volumes of that series’ reboot in 2015! And of course, everything my colleagues have mentioned here has a place on my list, too.
ANNA: This has been a good year for paranormal shoujo, with Midnight Secretary winding down, Spell of Desire starting up, the continuation of Millennium Snow, and even more vampire romance available in the two volume series Honey Blood. However I have to highlight what is one of the oddest paranormal titles that I’ve read recently, Black Rose Alice. There’s a dramatic shift in tone between the first two volumes that I found really intriguing, and the vampires that appear in the series are genuinely unusual even though there are plenty other vampire shoujo series to read! Setona Mizushiro’s art is an interesting mix of the pretty and the surreal. I find myself more impatient for the next volume of this series than any other manga I’ve read this year, so it gets my vote for pick of the year.