The Walking Man

Although manga, The Walking Man is published in a form more typical to collections of art comics, with jacket flaps and thick, crisply white paper. That suits its subject matter well, positioning it to an audience who can appreciate a series of reflective encounters beautifully illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi. (Also suited to that audience, it’s been flipped, so that it reads left-to-right.) Each chapter covers one of the man’s walks, showing us what he sees. In the first, he’s just […]

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Tuxedo Gin Volume 1

When Ginji finds true love at first sight, he’s not given a chance to enjoy it. Gin is a boxing champ, and his fighting skills have caused him to become a target for revenge. He never makes it to his first date with Minako, because his enemies cause a motorcycle accident, and he dies. However, a monk with angel wings appears and tells him he can choose to be reincarnated as an animal. When that being’s natural life span is […]

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Imadoki!

Yû Watase is best known for her two fantasy series, Fushigi Yûgi and Ceres: Celestial Legend. Although it takes place in a more normal school setting, Imadoki! (Nowadays) still has quite a fairy tale air about it. Tanpopo is so eager to check out her new Tokyo school that she jumps her bike over the gate, crash-landing into a boy tending a dandelion. In contrast to her outgoing energy, he’s reserved but caring, bandaging her injury the same way he […]

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Suki

Suki, contrary to first guess, isn’t the name of the young girl on the cover; she’s Hina. Instead, it’s from the phrase “Suki, Dakara Suki” (“I like you, that’s why I like you”). That kind of simple acceptance is a hallmark of Hina’s naiveté in this short CLAMP series. Hina lives alone with only two teddy bears for company. One snowy night, her new substitute teacher moves into the empty house next door. She’s thrilled to have a neighbor who […]

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Paradise Kiss

Paradise Kiss brings a heavy dose of fashion to a manga coming-of-age romance by Ai Yazawa. Yukari is a student cramming for her upcoming college entrance exams. A group of fashion students pick her up on the street because of her moody look and rename her Caroline. They’ve created a studio in the hopes of merchandising their fashions, and they need a model for their creations. Influenced by the glam movie Velvet Goldmine, each of them has their own look. […]

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Planetes

Planetes by Makoto Yukimura is the story of garbage collectors in space, those responsible for picking up leftover junk floating around. Yuri is trying to get over the freak death of his wife years earlier. He’s quiet and distracted, putting up with the desolation of the work by losing himself inside his head. Hachimaki is still young, dreaming of making enough for his own ship one day, and not realizing how prying simple questions can be. Fee is their driver, […]

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Fruits Basket

Tokyopop promoted Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket as its “most eagerly-awaited manga series”, and sales figures and top rankings have borne that out. With its blend of comedy, romance, fantasy, and drama, all expressed in an attractively mainstream art style, there’s something here for everyone. An eternal optimist, Tohru Honda is proud of taking care of herself, even though she’s been living in a tent after her mother’s death. She’s on the property of the Sohma family, a rather unusual group […]

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Sensual Phrase

I’ve read manga aimed at more mature female audiences before, women (josei) instead of girls (shôjo), but none of it hit me quite this passionately. Sensual Phrase by Mayu Shinjo combines the things I like best about both shôjo (stories about love, searching for meaning in life’s choices, and figuring out what kind of person you’re going to grow into) and josei (real-world conflicts, like not being taken seriously at your work because of your appearance and balancing work demands […]

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