Today, as the Battle Robot chatted about next week’s new manga (see Sean’s post later this evening), a title came up that is one I have tried hard to like, but failed utterly to do so. My desire to “like” is large, in general. I’m a liker. I like to like things. My ability to “like” is a major contributor to my quality of life. This may diminish my worth as a manga critic, but in the big picture I’m okay with that if it means that, above all else, I get to deeply enjoy the medium I spend so many hours with. Obviously I don’t like everything, and I’m not afraid to complain loudly and often, especially when it comes to genres directed at my gender, like BL, shoujo, and josei manga. (Yes, Black Bird, I’m looking at you.) But I always approach a new series with the desire to like it (even love it, if possible), and I’m occasionally heartbroken when that desire bears no fruit.
So, with that in mind…
3 manga series I wish I could like:
1. Black Butler | By Yana Tobaso | Yen Press – Though I’ll admit I gave up many volumes ago, I initially tried hard to like Black Butler. I’ll usually give any series at least three volumes to grab me, and I gave this one five, but my efforts were in vain. Why did I want so much to like Black Butler? I suppose it’s a longing for connection. With its enormous female fanbase and significant slash fandom, it crosses over heavily into circles I once called my own, and my lack of ability to connect lends itself to a sort of (mild) identity crisis. Furthermore, the series runs in my pet “shounen” magazine GFantasy, home of many series I do like (and even love), such as Gestalt, Nabari no Ou, and my beloved Pandora Hearts. Is it just me? I fear it may be.
2. Alice in the Country of Hearts | By QuinRose & Soumei Hoshino | Yen Press – My desire to like this series has a name, and that name is “Michelle.” Normally, I’d feel no alarm or sadness at all over my inability to like a reverse-harem series based on a game. In fact, I’d consider any positive reaction to be more of a pleasant surprise. In this case, however, Michelle’s enjoyment of the series (and her oft-stated hope I might share in her enjoyment) raises the stakes considerably, and I’m rather sad and ashamed to admit that after reading through two of Yen Press’ new omnibus volumes I just can’t quite get there. I’m so sorry, Michelle. I really, really wanted to like this. Can you forgive me?
3. Saiyuki Reload | By Kazuya Minekura | Tokyopop – Of all of these, I think Saiyuki Reload makes me saddest of all. Those who know me must be aware of my fervent love for the works of Kazuya Minekura, especially her unfinished BL noir-action series Wild Adapter, which Michelle, David, and I have spent much time praising to high heaven (or the non-theist equivalent of same). Wild Adapter, in fact, is one of the few topics capable of compelling me to discuss things like industry news. Somewhat less beloved by me, but still thoroughly enjoyed, is Minekura’s nine-volume shounen fantasy-adventure Saiyuki, which was extended into a shoujo series for Comic Zero Sum called Saiyuki Reload.
I originally borrowed all the then-available volumes of Saiyuki and Saiyuki Reload from a friend, and it’s telling that afterwards I made it my business to acquire my own copies of the former and not the latter. I don’t know what it was—maybe the increased indulgence in the characters’ hotness and BL subtext demanded by a shoujo magazine—but something about the continuation just didn’t click. Though I’ll admit that, were it possible to get my hands on these volumes again, I’d be open to giving it a second chance. License rescue, anyone?
Readers, what manga series do you wish you could love? And why?