Author Topic: Favorite Manga  (Read 7411 times)

Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #30 on: February 26, 2014, 09:56:31 AM »
You know, I only just realized that I have Monster and 20th Century Boys' rankings mixed up. Monster should be my #3 and 20CB my #6, but either way both series ate great.

Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #31 on: April 08, 2014, 10:02:04 PM »
Slight Update:

10. Bakuman- While it's nothing groundbreaking (the idea has been done before) I just gotta give it credit for opening my eyes to how brutally difficult the world of writing manga is. It has given me a newfound respect for people involved in the business, even I'd I don't like their series in particular. It also gets bonus points for introducing me to my new favorite manga series ever.

9. Slam Dunk- As far as pure shounen sports stories go this is still the standard (AnJ isn't "pure sports," just for the record).

8. Shounan Junai Gumi/GTO- Both series go together. The first is the greatest delinquent manga ever, and the second is probably my personal favorite manga comedy ever.

7. Death Note- It has it's flaws, but damn if it isn't just a really tightly-paced, addicting story, and one which gets bonus points for not wasting itself on trying to be pretentious drivel; the series clearly knows what it is, and mostly only plays up to its own strengths.

6. 20th Century Boys- Perhaps the most "epic" in scope manga that I've read, this is one of the few manga that literally balances well over a dozen characters at a time and actually manages to make them all feel fleshed out and memorable.

5. Dragon Ball- It's a classic that just flat out is given no justice by its much more popular anime adaptation of the latter parts of the story. If you think you have a pretty good idea of what this manga is like just because you saw a bunch of DBZ, then I'm here to tell you....no, you really don't. The manga is a completely different beast in terms of tone and delivery. Toriyama was called a genius of his time for a reason.

4. REAL- May be a bit premature, but this is arguably the most character-driven manga I've read. It's literally a story that only moves based on the characters. There's no large over-arching plot structure. It's just a constant string of character development, and as of 8 volumes in, it has only gotten better as it goes along. Slam Dunk was very much the perfect tournament-style sports series. Despite holding the monicker of wheelchair basketball, REAL isn't a story about basketball or sports, it's a story about people in the most genuine sense of the word.

3. Monster- Do I even need to explain this to anyone here. I'm pretty sure literally every current member of our board has read and is a fan of this series, and it's for obviously good reason.

2. Rurouni Kenshin- I can't escape the fact that, in my heart, I love shounen....when it's done well. Rurouni Kenshin is easily the best thing to have ever come out of Shounen Jump. It managed to avoid the trappings of every other shounen series out there, and instead became a perfect action manga that managed to balance everything out from cool characters (and complex/interesting villains) and fights to insanely good writing and an engaging lore. It's a rare beast that you'll likely never see anything like again.

1. Ashita no Joe- I already did an article on this one, and plan to do several more in the coming months. What I'll say now is that this series is just....made for people like me. Until now, I've never read anything that could constantly transcend it's own age and it's genre to keep impressing me with each and every new page I turned to. Sure, I'm still not done with the manga, having 2 volumes left to go, but of what's out, I've re-read most of it at least twice, and knowing how the story ends via the excellent anime adaptation, I feel confident in claiming that this series is the complete package. It has excellent writing, excellent character development, excellent humor, excellent art-work, and an excellent portrayal of the theme of societal class struggle and a healthy dose of social and sometimes even political commentary AND satire. Even better than that, though, it has kick-ass and memorable fights.

LumRanmaYasha

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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2014, 03:08:35 AM »


3. Monster- I'm pretty sure literally every current member of our board has read and is a fan of this series, and it's for obviously good reason.

Except for the members of the board who don't read manga/watch anime.  :D

Your list is looking as consistent (and good) as ever. I must say, I never expected to see Hunter X Hunter drop from your top ten, though I know you prefer the first anime over the manga as it is.

I need to get on finishing Slam Dunk and reading REAL. When summer comes, I'll make sure to plow through them before the other stuff on my backlog.

1. Ashita no Joe- I already did an article on this one, and plan to do several more in the coming months. What I'll say now is that this series is just....made for people like me. Until now, I've never read anything that could constantly transcend it's own age and it's genre to keep impressing me with each and every new page I turned to. Sure, I'm still not done with the manga, having 2 volumes left to go, but of what's out, I've re-read most of it at least twice, and knowing how the story ends via the excellent anime adaptation, I feel confident in claiming that this series is the complete package. It has excellent writing, excellent character development, excellent humor, excellent art-work, and an excellent portrayal of the theme of societal class struggle and a healthy dose of social and sometimes even political commentary AND satire. Even better than that, though, it has kick-ass and memorable fights.

Pretty much how I feel about the series, and why it's now my favorite manga as well.  :thumbup:

Looking back, it's been nearly a year since I posted my first favorite manga list. Since then, it's changed significantly, and at this point only 4 of those are still in my top ten. I'll probably wait a while before I update mine again, since there's a lot of manga I'm planning to finish that could be potential top favorites of mine, and I don't want my list to get redundant quickly.  :P

gunswordfist

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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #33 on: April 09, 2014, 03:33:47 AM »
I've never read it.
"Ryu is like the Hank Hill of Street Fighter." -BB_Hoody


Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #34 on: September 25, 2014, 04:09:33 PM »
My current top 5 favorite mangaka:

5. Tsugumi Ohba/Takeshi Obata- I love Death Note and Bakuman; not much else to say other than the fact that this duo really knows how to make works that truly stand out.

4. Akira Toriyama- Yes, I've only read Dragon Ball and his various one-shots and short stories like Sand Land, but I'm a massive DB fan at that, and I feel that anyone who judges the series WITHOUT having read the manga is both doing Toriyama and themselves a great disservice; I have a feeling that my opinion of him will only improve when I finally get around to reading Dr. Slump.

3. Inoue Takehiko- Slam Dunk pretty much defined the modern era of shounen sports manga, and to this day I have yet to see any other series execute its formuka better. REAL showed us that you don't even need a formula to make a great series that's always compelling to read, and supports it's long take on the strength of excellent character development alone; and Vagabond shows us that this is an author who can clearly do different stuff, and still be just as interesting and entertaining; of all of the mangaka I've enjoyed reading the works of, Takehiko in particular creates some of the most realistic yet still very identifiable characters that I've seen within the medium so far.

2. Yoshihiro Togashi- Say what you want about him and his notorious laziness, but he's managed to still stay popular despite all of that for a good reason, and that reason is because more than any other mangaka, he ever lets anything force him to compromise on his limitless creativity. As a consequence, his work may not be for everyone, but for those who enjoy the shounen genre and want to see something that can step beyond the scope of your boring, predictable cliches from every other series out there, I'd say that all 3 of his most famous works, Yu Yu Hakusho, Level E, and Hunter X Hunter deliver on that in spades. Not everything that he writes is gold, but when he does get something right, which is more often than not, it stands above and beyond as some of the best written material in the entire genre, IMO.

1. Naoki Urasawa- True, I've only finished 3 of his major works, and have merely dabbled in others so far, but the 3 that I have read and re-read multiple times over are enough to make him my favorite alone. I just don't thing that I've read any other manga with writing as consistently good as Monster, Pluto, or 20th Century Boys, and on top of his writing talent he is also by far one of my favorite artists, which is pretty important considering that manga is such a visual medium. His art truly captures the perfect compromise between simplicity and explicit detail, which is amazing if you really consider just how few mangaka there are that can really do that (the only other one on this list being Obata, but unlike Urasawa, he's not also responsible for the story as well). I feel that my opinion of him will only improve as I continue to read more of his works.

Now, admittedly I'm leaving off Tezuka because quite frankly I've only ever read (and still haven't even finished) Black Jack, but I could easily see him cracking my list once I read more of his work. As for Takamori and Chiba, it's pretty much the same thing, only I doubt that I'll ever get to read anymore of their output unless I just flat-out learn Japanese, because there's little to no chance of them being translated.

LumRanmaYasha

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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #35 on: September 26, 2014, 02:00:09 AM »
Great list! This is actually a fairly difficult subject for me to narrow down, since there are quite a few mangaka who I really respect and admire. So, I think I'll go for a top ten and try and highlight the ones I feel I appreciate the most at the moment:

10. Kaoru Mori

Mori's love of exotic locales and beautiful clothing shines through all of her work, from the detailed maids' uniforms of Emma to the intricate patterns on the middle eastern garments of A Bride's Story. Her art is strikingly polished and meticulous, with a awing attention to detail, and incredibly expressive and humorous. She really knows how to bring you in and invest you in whole new worlds, showcasing all of their facets and intricacies, celebrating their culture and bringing them vividly to life in a palatable, personal way. Moreover, she creates wonderful romantic fantasies with carefully explored relationships and well-written characters. In Emma, she was a much better artist than a writer, but in A Bride's Story, she's honed her skills to a new level, and is now equally great on both fronts. She's got unique interests in history, idealized foreign settings, domestic life, and strong female characters (oh, and maids. She LOVES maids), and all of these are captured in her work and set her apart from others in her field. There are many writing historical fantasies these days, but Mori is one of the few who doesn't write an epic action-adventure akin to Vinland Saga, but rather a more slice-of-life esque travelogue, exploring the lives of different people, and their efforts to find love and happiness, all interconnected by recurring characters, and a larger story developing in the background. She's an interesting creator, with a unique style and sensibilities, and I have no doubt she will continue to create fascinating, well-written work.

9. Makoto Yukimura

Yukimura has created two great series, both as far apart from each other in content as they could possibly be. Planetes looks to the future, imagining a time when mankind has made space travel easier and there are colonies on the moon, yet man seeks to go ever further into it's depths, and is ultimately a tale of humanity, and a story about love and dreams. Vinland Saga looks to the past, a fictional historical account of the era of danish vikings and bloody wars for land and power, exploring the thin line of good and evil, and a tale of revenge and redemption. What both manga have in common are well-written character arcs, explorations of ideas including what it means to be a human being, what it means to be a good person, what it takes to achieve your ambitions, and what it is one needs to find happiness and fulfillment in their lives. His attention to his characters and their development, and his ability to go against expectations and create unique stories about something more than just their content, rightly earns his works the critical praise and attention they deserve, and makes them stand as some of the best manga I've ever read. I don't know how long or where Vinland Saga will ultimately go, but in Yukimura's hands it will surely be a thoughtful, meaningful journey.

8. Akiko Higashimura

Higashimura is the creator of my favorite currently running manga, the one and only Princess Jellyfish. She is a total otaku, and is not ashamed to admit it, writing about her life experiences and personal misadventures in short ten page biographical stories at the end of each volume. And so, perhaps modeled on her experiences, Princess Jellyfish is about people incredibly passionate about something, be it jellyfish, trains, clothes, etc., and what our interests mean to us, say about us, and how we shouldn't be afraid to express ourselves, and open ourselves up towards other people. The main characters of PJ, the Amars, are young women who are not typcially considered attractive by societies standards, nor do they care for the things society dictates they should, like fashionable clothing or makeup, but rather love something that most people would consider weird. They are looked down upon as nerds and anti-social NEETS with no skills or assets to function in the workforce, and they feel ostracized from society. But through the course of the story, Higashimura shows how people who are passionate about something, even if it's something that some might consider nerdy, can actually do great things, and shows that even people who might be considered "normal," whether it be the major politicians in the japanese diet or a multi-billionare owner of a clothing chain, are all really passionate about something or another unique to them on the inside, and it's through the merging of these passions, and the creation of long-lasting friendships and relationships, that we get by and can accomplish something bigger than ourselves. It's clear the story's themes and messages were influenced by Higashimura's personal experiences in life, as a passionate, nerdy woman herself, and this is particularly evident when reading her autobiographical stories, and her other currently-running manga about how she became who she is as and artist and mangaka today (also another one of my favorite currently-running manga), Kakukaku Shikajika. What I love about KS is not only is it a grounded, realistic depiction of the life of a young artist (and I can personally relate to several of her experiences, be it overbearing art teachers to the sting of rejection from first-choice colleges), but it's also unabashed in showing off both the good and bad experiences of her life, and her strengths and faults as a person, as well as a careful, sometimes painful reflection of past mistakes and regrets, and is something that really resonates with me. Higashimura is simply sublime when it comes to writing personal, character-driven stories, and what's more, has a wonderful sense of humor. Both PJ and KS can make me laugh out loud one second, then devastated at the next, and in a reflective mood right after that. I love her style, humor, and ability to craft memorable, nuanced characters and fascinating down-to-earth stories, and it's criminal that none of her work is legally in print, because I'd buy up volumes of PJ and KS in a heartbeat if they ever did. But right now, I'm just glad to be able to read PJ and KS at all.

7. Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Tatsumi is perhaps the second most published "old-school" mangaka in the west, after Tezuka. And with good reason, since he is one of the most important, seminal figures in the industry, credited with the creation of the gekiga movement. Through his gekiga stories, Tatsumi and his peers aimed to write mature, nuanced stories aimed towards adults. Unlike Tezuka, who was interested in creating stories more for entertainment, while still pushing the boundaries of what he could do with the medium, Tatsumi and his peers wanted to challenge the medium as an artform, and bring it to a new heights as a medium of artistic expression, and not just create commercial, mass-entertainment. The gekiga movement was hence in large part responsible for changing the perception of manga as just kids' stuff, and helped it reach adult audiences, and gain respect as a legitimate art form. You might think of Tatsumi's works, and most gekiga manga, as the arthouse films of the manga world: abstract, nontraditional stories that serve to convey potent and meaningful philosophical themes, sometimes in bizarre, uncomfortable, but always provocative ways. They are fascinating reads, exploring social, moral, and political issues, always a commentary on the state of japanese society, and the melancholy of modern life. But while I love his short stories, it is perhaps his least unconventional, but perhaps most personal, work that ranks as one of my favorite manga. A Drifting Life details Tatsumi's entire career, from childhood to present day, showing how not only the industry of manga changed, but how japanese society changed, over a multiple decade period of time, and all the hardships suffered in his quest to try and evolve manga as an art form, and change it's perception in society. It's a fascinating read, giving insight into both the history of manga as well as that of post-WWII Japan, and cemented my respect for him as an artist, and one of the most influential pioneers of manga. He's still alive today, still drawing and writing fantastic stories, though he remains criminally unknown not only internationally, but in his own country as well. But for my money, he was and still is one of the best, the auteur of gekiga, and a man who's hard work and love for his craft paved the way for the market for modern adult manga.

6. Yoshihiro Togashi

There really isn't anything I can say about Togashi that other members on this board cannot say better. But what drew me to YYH as a kid was it's strong handling of well-written characters, mature themes, and it's subversions of typical action series cliches and storytelling. All the main cast of YYH had a great character arc, and felt like genuine people rather than mere characters. But he has an especial knack to create compelling, layered villains, Toguro being one of the most fascinating characters I had ever seen as a kid and Sensui soon topping him after that. Whereas I felt a lot of villains in other action series were two-dimensional, or cartoonishly evil, characters like Toguro, Sakyo, the Sensui and his followers felt like much more realistic, human characters with better rounded strengths, weaknesses, and developed justifications for how they came to be who they are and why they do what they do. And of course, this is one of the strengths in HXH as well, through the Phantom Troupe, Meruem, and several others. Beyond his ability to craft great characters, though, is his ability to make really unique and interesting stories with interesting concepts. I loved the Chapter Black arc because, rather than do the obvious thing and have new enemies stronger than Toguro show up, Togashi introduced characters who were far, far weaker than any of the demons of the Dark Tournament arc, but just as dangerous because of how they used their abilities. Likewise, this is what makes the concept of Nen fascinating in Hunter X Hunter, because for the most part it means that there is more to battles than just how strong the characters are, but how they can best use their abilities, and are thus hence battles of wit, endurance, and attrition. I also appreciate how he is so willing to change his series, move them into entirely different genres sometimes, in the effort to keep them interesting, and how well he does it. YYH starts off as a gag-manga, then becomes tournament-based, then a more mystery-style action series, while Level E crosses the boundaries of horror, sci-fi, and parody several times, and HXH pretty much encompasses every type of battle-shonen there is. There are certainly nothing like his series, because his series are like so many things at once, and they feel incredibly fresh and unique as a result. I have my issues with his laziness, and feel he's dropped the ball a bit through his inconsistency in writing HXH, which has prevented it from reaching it's full potential, but certainly, he is the best battle-shonen writer working in the industry, and has created two of the best there is, and ever will be.

LumRanmaYasha

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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #36 on: September 26, 2014, 02:00:27 AM »
5. Takehiko Inoue

Inoue creates really addicting manga. All three of his works are series where I couldn't just read one volume at a time and be satisfied. His works are just really just that engrossing, and what makes them so is the fast pace of his stories and his ability to make you engaged with the struggles and tribulations of the characters. While the characters of Slam Dunk are simple, they are likable and get enough to go through to make you want to see them succeed in their goals, and the matches in SD are all unique, balanced, and intense enough to keep you reading. The final game in SD is perhaps the single best game in any sports manga, showing off the characters at their very best, resolving character arcs, and showing his characters triumph over their greatest challenge ever. The ending of SD reflects the change in his attitude on life, another fascinating aspect about him as a writer. When he started drawing manga, Inoue believed that being the absolute best was the most important thing, and that is reflected in the attitudes of the main characters, especially Sakuragi. The ending of SD is not one of complete victory, but all the characters are satisfied regardless, and have something to continue to strive for. Over time, Inoue had learned that winning is not the most important thing. Experiencing failure allows you to grow as a person, and find ways to persevere and improve themselves. Losing is not the end, but a new beginning. And it is only through bitter failure that one can truly feel the elation of sweet victory. There is a balance; you can only know what it means to truly live once you know how it feels to almost die. This philosophy is prevalent in Inoue's subsequent works. REAL is about people who feel they have lost everything, but come to appreciate what they still have, and find fulfillment pursuing new ambitions and bettering themselves as people. I haven't read too much of Vagabond, but similarly, it's about how to live your life meaningfully and with purpose, focusing on Musashi's efforts to become one of the best samurai of his era, and how he changes as a person. Inoue's explorations of these themes and the human condition make both stories unique and engaging, both moreover his characters are very rich and nuanced, and feel very realistic and human, and often relatable, especially in REAL. In addition to excellent storytelling and characters, the art in REAL and Vagabond is top-notch, and some of the best in any manga; incredibly detailed and subtle, but nonetheless expressive. Inoue is a talented mangaka with an interesting philosophy on life, and has created three very distinct, but exceptional series, all transcending (or, in SD's case, defining) their particular genres, and standing among the best out there.

4. Akira Toriyama

Toriyama was the first person I ever became a fan of. Dragon Ball had a huge impact on me as a kid, and I was obsessed by it, scouring the internet for fansites, checking the official websites every day and reading character and episode bios, and it was through my passion for the series that I discovered sites like Toon Zone, opened up to more action series, learned about and started watching anime, etc. But it also got me into reading more comics, something I didn't really do much of before, and made me especially love manga. I spent my days watching lots of the Dragon Ball anime and reading volumes upon volumes of the manga, and the 18th volume of DBZ was the first volume of manga I ever purchased. When I learned about Dr. Slump, a series that was created by the man who made Dragon Ball, my favorite thing ever, I just had to read it. And this was when I went from just being a fan of Dragon Ball, to becoming a fan of the man behind it. Dr. Slump was like nothing I ever seen before. It was a wild, crazy world with zany humor, diverse characters, several of them being non-human which was something I've always liked, completely unpredictable, and completely different from any cartoon or comic comedy series I had yet experienced. This was when I started to recognize Toriyama's sensibilities, the things he loved to write and draw about, his style of humor, his iconic art style, and made me want to learn more about him. And so, I would always read the interviews and Q&A pages at the end of the early DB volumes and in the middle of the Slump volumes, and soon grew an appreciation for him as a creator and storyteller. In part, one of the big reasons I think I came to love Toriyama was because there were few creators I really saw engage themselves with their work or their fans as much as he seemed to. But also, at a time when I thought people who made tv shows and movies and comics were these special, distant individuals who made these things effortlessly, I saw that Toriyama was just as human as I was, and went through a lot of tough times and worked incredibly hard to create work he could be proud of, and that others would enjoy. I loved how humble he was about his craft, how passionate he was about sci-fi, crude humor, and kung-fu movies, and how he would often poke fun of himself in Slump as a recurring character, which I thought was brilliant and was something I had never seen anyone do before at that point in time, and grew to admire him. He was my hero. He was just a normal guy, who liked drawing but never really thought about being a mangaka until he tried it out, and he managed to find success in his field by creating something wholly original, completely him, and then from there become even more successful and create one of the most influential, popular anime/manga franchise ever made. I loved his simple, expressive character designs, with facial expressions and comedic timing I couldn't find in most american cartoons, and his intricately detailed drawings of automobiles and technological things, and how seamlessly he could draw both simple and complicated things in the same series and create rich worlds of endless possibilities. I started learning to draw from trying to copy his artwork, and I created lots of stories based on what I loved best about his series, and developed characters that ripped off resembled certain characters from Slump, and made a short comic series in Middle School that a lot of people surprisingly liked (maybe because of how weird it was). Toriyama really has impacted and influenced me more than any other person I can think of through his work, and I will always respect and admire him for not only creating what is one of the greatest manga comedies and the "last non-manufactured hit" (as it is apparently called by certain manga editors in Japan) in Dr. Slump, and in creating one of the greatest action/adventure, certainly the most influential, anime/manga in Dragon Ball. My life has certainly been enriched from experiencing his series, and they helped mold me into the person I am today. Thank you, Akira Toriyama. Thank you.

3. Naoki Urasawa

Urasawa and his work has not really affected me, personally, nearly as strongly and emotionally as Toriyama, by any stretch. So, why do I, at this point in time, favor him a bit higher regardless? Because he creates quality work that stands at the cream of the crop of the medium, plain and simple. Not that all of his work is on the level of Monster. His ventures into slice-of-life and comedy seem fairly unsuccessful, since Yawara! is fun but nothing that I feel hasn't been done better, and Happy!, while I've still yet to read it, seems to be unanimously panned by many for it's incessant character-beat downs and repetitiveness. But while Urasawa might lack the cross-genre range other mangaka might be capable of, he is easily unrivaled in what he does best; tightly plotted thriller-mystery series, with excellent writing and a cast of multifarious well-developed characters. He is, perhaps, the best writer in the medium today, and all of his series since Monster have been hit after hit, consistently engrossing and of high quality. It really says something that Billy Bat, his most recent work, is his most interesting yet, though I really must get back into and caught up with it as soon as I can. Urasawa knows how to balance out large, sprawling casts, move his story to several different locations, making his world feel large, the mysteries deep, and shoot out surprise after surprise, shock after shock, and keep tension high and things never predictable. He explores what makes us, as human beings, tick, what separates good and evil, how to change, deal with adversities and impossible odds, and do what's right. They are of course highly addictive reads, and when you start one you find yourself at the end of the volume before you know it and immediately grab the next one on the shelf. The gripping nature of his work is proof of strong, solid storytelling that knows how to make you want to see these questions answered and learn the fates of the characters and whether they'll come out okay, and he never stops surprising you from beginning to end. He's a celebrated mangaka worldwide and his works are rightly lauded and famous, and no doubt he will continue to put out incredible works for the foreseeable future. If you were to ask me which modern mangaka I respect the most for their storytelling skills and ability to make consistently incredible work, it is him, no contest.

2. Rumiko Takahashi

Takahashi. She seems to be a mangaka that people either love to death, or can't stand. I'm not sure why her work draws extreme reactions one way or another like that. Perhaps, it's just backlash from creating consistently uber-popular work, but the kind that a lot of people who go into anime/manga, looking for serialized and tightly-paced action-packed adventures or serious over dramatic stories, just aren't looking for. But I love her work. And I avoided it for a long time, not really knowing who she is, exactly, but not really having a good perception of her two most popular in the west: InuYasha and Ranma 1/2. I could probably write an essay-long retrospective on my history with her works and how I came to love them as much as I do know, and I almost did, but that would be too long so I'll just cut to the chase of why I like her stuff. Takahashi writes unique and creative slapstick comedies, rooted deep in japanese culture and folklore, tackling a whole range of subjects from sci-fi to slice-of-life to martial arts, with romantic subplots and undertones prevalent though often not taken too seriously. But that is not all she is capable of. She is skilled at writing fascinating horror stories, moving slice-of-life tales about working-class people, especially adult women, and can craft brilliant, realistic feeling romance stories that both move and resonate, and of course this is embodied in Maison Ikkoku. Her short stories are unique, diverse, and show off the full range of her creative potential, and Urusei Yatsura is a brilliant comedy, mixing influences from all sorts of different genres, and inventing whole new ones, and it is credited as the first anime/manga comedy series to actively satirize popular culture. It was essentially The Simpsons of manga, and is likewise the most influential modern anime/manga comedy, and just about everything that came after it borrows from it in some way. It's one of the most important pieces of manga history, and while Excel Saga ranks higher as my all-time favorite manga comedy for me, even that series was notably influenced by it, and likely wouldn't have been the same if it had never existed. So Takahashi is a very influential figure. She created the most important anime/manga comedy franchise there ever was, and it honestly puts to shame pretty much all of it's imitators today with how well-written and unique it is, especially on the front of the subtlety of it's characters' development, who had no need to do so in a such a bizarre, off the walls gag manga anyway. She also created the greatest romance anime/manga ever, and Maison Ikkoku is perhaps the single anime/manga series that could truly elicit a physical reaction from me, the first time that I would scream at the screen and jump up in joy whenever something went right for it's characters.

But what do I love about her work, specifically? They are timeless. Urusei Yatsura was a series that actually took me a while to get into, but once I did, and noticed more about it, I slowly came to love it. It's genuinely hilarious, even now, and the ensemble cast is still one of the best there is, Lum and Ataru being rightfully iconic characters. Maison Ikkoku is one of the most human stories, certainly, it is the one I find the most relatable, something that I can rarely say about an animated or comic series, and it has nothing to do with it's romantic elements. I was a pretty unromantic guy. In fact, I never cared for romance stories and always thought they were the weakest elements in a lot of series. But Maison Ikkoku was not just about two people in love, but a story about finding one's way in life and earning one's happiness, and the trust and relationships one forges with people. Beginning to end, Godai's journey to adulthood was fascinating and moving, and Kyoko's slow journey to let go of her past, and embrace what's in front of her was equally powerful. And it all feels so very true to life, and made me care about seeing the characters find happiness, in themselves and in each other. So, Maison Ikkoku pretty much made me, who never liked romance stories, fall in love with one. That's just how well-written it is.

Essentially, that highlights what Takahashi's best strengths as a mangaka are. She creates unique, diverse casts of characters. They are quirky, lovable, sometimes weird, sometimes irritating, but incredibly fun to watch. And she knows how to craft relationships between the characters, give them chemistry with each other, and use their quirks and oddities to craft humorous situations and get a lot of mileage out of their comedic or dramatic natures. Her ability to create great characters is her greatest strength, and is true for all her series. And the other thing that's great about her is her range; her ability to create really dramatic horror stories, to emotionally powerful romances, to wacky slapstick comedy, and her ability to mix all her various influences together to create interesting worlds and unique series. Look at her body of work, and you can see she's never quite made the same exact thing twice (unlike what some people think): a sci-fi slapstick comedy, a serious slice-of-life romance, a horror manga, a sports manga, a action-packed romantic-comedy, a battle-shonen adventure, and a supernatural gag comedy. There are certainly repeated character types in her works, like the rich rival character (Mendou, Mitaka, Jumonji, etc.) or the irresponsible idiot father (Mr. Fujinami, Gendo, Sabato, etc.), but you could never confuse any of her characters for one another, and they are all distinct personalities with their own idiosyncrasies. Her biggest weakness is that she is not necessarily skilled in writing long narratives, preferring shorter, episodic stories, which leads to her often repeating several ideas or leaving some plot related hings stalled for too long, which were things that made InuYasha unfortunately inconsistent in the first half of the series, and earned it it's unfavorable reputation among many anime/manga fans, and to a lesser extent, is something that has annoyed people in regards to Ranma 1/2, since many go into it expecting a serious romance story (it does take itself much more seriously in the beginning, but Takahashi always just wanted it to be another episodic slapstick like UY), and very little really develops on that front.

But, on the whole, I think all her works are well written from a character perspective, and she is adept in creating unique comedy manga and created what is still the best anime/manga romance series there is, and both UY and MI are two of my absolute top favorite series ever, and R1/2, IY, and the rest of her work are all series I'm a big fan of. I love her style, unique characters, sense of humor, and diversity in her work, and she's created series that I don't simply just love, but am obsessed with. Her stuff might not be everyone's cup of tea, for sure, but as for me, they are some of the very best I've ever read, and stories I can come back to again and again and again and never tire of. While her latest work, Rin-ne, is not her at her A-game, several inspired moments as well as her recent short stories show she still has a lot of creative juice left in her, and the potential to create another great work even now. I feel she would be best to write a more grounded, seinin work like MI, but she loves and has always loved shonen, and I can respect her wanting to stick with the genre. Takahashi has created series that have affected me emotionally and personally stronger that most other works of fiction I've read, and characters that resonate as some of my all time favorite characters from any medium, and I have a profound respect and admiration for her creative skill and sensibilities. I know that there will always be people who can't get into her stuff, perhaps even hate it, for whatever reason. But her works are some of my most favorite discoveries I've ever made since becoming an anime/manga fan, and I am proud to say I am a fan of both her and her body of work. My alternate username, LumRanmaYasha, serves as a testament to that. That said, she is still not my absolute favorite mangaka. Now just who else could I appreciate even more than her? Oh, as if you couldn't already guess...
« Last Edit: September 26, 2014, 12:52:03 PM by Cartoon X »

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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #37 on: September 26, 2014, 02:00:42 AM »
1. Osamu Tezuka

Some people might feel it's cliche to consider Tezuka their favorite mangaka. I don't care, because he is mine, easily. For the record, I'm not one of those people who overrate him as an untouchable god-like figure who created masterpiece after masterpiece and created anime and manga. He wasn't that, and people who believe he created anime/manga, or was single-handedly responsible for shaping the medium into how it was today, are wrong. The best way to think of him is that he was the Walt Disney of manga. Like Disney, Tezuka was important and influential, and a great businessman, helping to innovate new ideas to turn the anime industry of Japan into the powerhouse it is today, and creating multiple works and characters that became familiar with mass audiences, entertaining children and adult alike, and establishing anime and manga as not just kids entertainment, but family entertainment. He took influences from those abroad, heavily inspired by the comics of Carl Banks and Will Eisner as well as Disney animated features, as well as those around him, his contemporaries in his field inspiring him to explore new concepts and venture into different genres. There were several other figures, like Tatsumi, Mizuki, Takamori, and the Year 24 group, who were just as important to the evolution of manga as an art form as he was, and the biggest reason Tezuka is the most remembered of his generation today is in one part because he produced the most voluminous amount of work, and he produced the most popular. Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Black Jack...all of these became staple, household names, multi-million dollar franchises, and beloved icons. Black Jack and Astro Boy are still today two of the highest selling manga of all time, and in terms of numbers of copies sold per volume, Black Jack is actually by far the highest. In addition, Astro Boy was the first anime to become well-known and broadcast in the U.S., opening doors for the importation of more japanese animation and comics in the western world for years to come. Though a lot of his work was popular, and he was a household name, that doesn't mean all of his work was great. He made a lot of series, a lot, but most of them are forgotten and unknown in the U.S., possibly because they simply weren't that memorable. And even some of the stuff that does get translated, like Atom Cat, isn't really top-tier work. So, what I'm trying to get at here, is that Tezuka was indeed an important figure who created many incredible works, but he's been elevated to this god-like status by many ans that simply does not reflect the history of the medium or Tezuka breath of work accurately.

So Tezuka didn't "create" anime/manga and I don't love him for that misconception. Why is he my favorite mangaka then? Because his great works remain some of the most innovative, creative, thoughtful, and diverse comics to come out of the medium. Tezuka was an innovator. He was interested in so many things, and he mused on all of these in his work. He tackled social issues, wrote political commentary, explored philosophical ideas and the nature of life and humanity itself. His body of work is full of interesting ideas, concepts, and memorable, iconic characters. He was ambitious, thoughtful, and always tried to push the boundaries of comic storytelling. These innovations did influence how manga looks and layouts are drawn today, and his works still boast more profound and diverse use of panels and the intricacies of what makes a comic a comic to make stories that are truly meant for the page and not the screen, masterworks of their medium. I love how his work always is about something, always thinking about and commentating on meaningful, relevant themes and ideas. And surely, this is why his works still resonate with readers today, because they are absolutely timeless and provide experiences that no other mangaka can rival. Tezuka combines the absurd and real, wacky slapstick with gripping drama, silly jokes with musings on the human condition, and he does this effortlessly. I'd say he was ahead of his time, but that would a disservice to other talented mangaka of his era. Rather, the medium has just devolved from his time, the commercialization and need to pander churning out safe and base crap that sullies the efforts of everything Tezuka worked so hard all his life to prove: manga is a legitimate art form, capable of entertaining young and old, and tell meaningful, thought-provoking stories that can make people think about and reflect upon things in new lights. Tezuka was unrivaled in his love for comics. He drew tirelessly, copiously, putting out an output that blows me away whenever I think about it. He became a millionare in his mid-twenties, but he was driven by money, only his love of drawing, and proving that manga was just as capable as film or literature in effectiveness as both mass entertainment and as art. He died begging for the chance to draw more. He was never satisfied. And sadly, he passed away before his most ambitious work, Phoenix, could ever be completed.

But what did he leave behind? A nation that grew up with his stories and characters, fell in love with them, and great to respect manga much more than their predecessors. The nation was devastated by his loss. He really did, generally, redefine manga, and make it a respectable form of entertainment for the japanese people. There was an essay published after he died that mused why the japanese love manga so much, when foreigners find it strange to see grown adults read them during the morning commute or in leisurely public places, and their conclusion was that nowhere else in the world had someone like Osamu Tezuka. He created work that remains some of the best there is, and in many aspects, he is still unrivaled. There is no one that can match the range of subjects he could tackle, or write the kinds of stories he can, mixing childish, simple drawings with complex themes and messages, and innovative methods of storytelling that simply could only be done in comics and nothing else. There was, and is, no one else like him, and probably there will never be some like him ever again. He was a brilliant writer, a brilliant creator, a brilliant artist, someone truly passionate about his craft so much so that he was the biggest proponent in changing the perceptions of the medium for an entire nation, and his influence is still far reaching today. He is, to me, the best, the ultimate mangaka, boasting a range and body of work of quality and influential series that no other could possibly hope to match, and I admire his passion and knack for drawing and creating great stories to entertain both children and adult alike. Every time I picked up one of his series, I was blown away by how unique and well-done they were, and how powerfully he conveyed his messages in a way that feels at once both old-school, modern, and innovative today. He was a master comic creator, and I've seen no other mangaka match his skill or ambition, and the love for his work shines through everything he did like no other. And so, it is through a powerful combination of respect, reverence, and appreciation, that he is, and will likely remain, my favorite mangaka.

Well, that sure took a long-ass time to write...but yeah, there you go. These are my favorites. I actually could still write a heck of a lot more on why I love Toriyama, Takahashi, and Tezuka, but I think you guys get the point already.  :sweat:
« Last Edit: September 26, 2014, 11:00:27 PM by Cartoon X »

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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #38 on: September 26, 2014, 10:09:12 AM »
Good choices, guys. As for Takahashi, I've always liked her pre-Ranma works, but have been left cold by her stuff since then. They just don't compare to me.

My top 10 would be an obvious combination of both of yours, but I would add that Urasawa is easily my favorite. Monster is my favorite manga, 20th Century Boys is close, and Pluto shows tremendous respect for Tezuka while still remaining in his own style. Then there's the weird ambitiousness of Billy Bat and you just wonder what is in this guy's oatmeal. Oh yeah, and his early work isn't half bad either.

I also have to say I've never read anything by Tezuka that wasn't enjoyable on some level. There is no one like him.
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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #39 on: September 26, 2014, 12:26:07 PM »
Awesome list, CX! It really show-cases how much manga I still have to read, but somehow I just knew that Tezuka would be your number one pick. ;)

Out of all of the mangaka on your list that I'm not very familiar with, I really want to get into Tezuka's work the most, myself. His work just seems so up my alley. As for Takahashi, I really should try her earlier stuff. I may not care for Inu-Yasha, personally, but that's a battle shounen series, and her other works are slice-of-life and/or comedies, which is a completely different genre, so I'm sure those could win me over. I used to be a bit of an arrogant prick and just judge her based on one work I didn't like, but later on I realized that would be the equivalent of judging someone like Nobuhiro Watsuki on anything other than Rurouni Kenshin (which, just to out things into perspective, was my favorite manga at the time of that realization, and is still my 2nd favorite manga right now).

I was pleasantly surprised to see Inoue Takehiko so high on your list, but he really is that great of a mangaka. Desensitized, you should REAL-ly check out REAL one of these days. I really think you'd be pleasantly surprised by how refreshing and captivating it is. And what CX said about Inoue Takehiko is completely true, I read that in a translated interview from him, and it's just so fascinating how his own personal changing philosophy on life changed his outlook on manga, and consequentially influenced how and what he wrote.

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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #40 on: September 26, 2014, 01:32:26 PM »
REAL is on my list for sure. I enjoy Slam Dunk and Vagabond, so I definitely want to read it.

I also have to agree with Cartoon X and his Makoto Yukimura love. Planetes and Vinland Saga are both pretty amazing works, though I hope the latter doesn't become the next Berserk in length. I want to see more stuff from the man and really do think he should be better known.
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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #41 on: September 26, 2014, 01:40:59 PM »
You guys have really good lists! They just keep on adding to my never-ending list more than anything, heh.

I'm just not that well versed in manga as you guys, but Urasawa and Tezuka would definitely have to be my top 2. I'm also a fan of Ohba and Obata's work, for sure.
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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #42 on: September 26, 2014, 01:47:02 PM »
And no mention of Togashi? Shame on you! :burn:

Though, if it makes you feel any better, I'm not nearly as well-versed in manga as CX, either. ;)

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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #43 on: September 26, 2014, 02:00:32 PM »
And no mention of Togashi? Shame on you! :burn:
Well I'm primarily versed in his adaptations, although I really should get into HXH's manga.
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Re: Favorite Manga
« Reply #44 on: September 26, 2014, 02:03:15 PM »
That's close enough in my book. It's still his stories and writing, just with some enhancements to make it even better in some areas. ;)
« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 10:53:32 PM by Dr. Ensatsu-ken »