I have a great deal of consideration for the comic art form, but when I was kid, we had over here some kick ass anime, so I tend to stray to the manga side of the spectrum. Now, I don’t watch anime, mostly because it’s a dragged out version of the manga, and I don’t really have the same patience I have than when I saw all 300+ episodes of Naruto, when I could read all the manga in weekend’s time. Through the time I spent on onemanga.com (god rest his soul), I got to find out some pretty great manga. Today, I present my 5 favorite finished mangas.
5. Full Metal Alchemist
A manga that could’ve gone in a pretty straight forward fashion but it didn’t. Edward and Alphonse live in a world where Alchemy is possible: just with a drawing in chalk of the equation and the required components, you can form almost magically, anything you like. But of course, to such a power, there’s rules, and there’s one rule to rule them all: you can’t perform human alchemy. However, when Edward and Alphonse were kid with more knowledge in alchemy then some adults and their mother died, trying human alchemy was the only thing they could do. But there’s another rule: conservation of mass; you can’t make stuff out of thin air, and even though they brought together the components of a human being, a human being is not made only of chemicals, so in the process, Edward loses his left leg and Alphonse loses his entire body. In the short period of time after the experiment, Edward alone looks for his mother, only to find this mess of a corpse and his brother not around. By breaking the rules again, Edward does human alchemy to bring back the soul of his brother and fixates him into a armor, but losing his right arm in the process. The story has action, intrigue, an almost steam punk world and the whole adventure (106 chapters long) disappears in your hand. I don’t recommend the anime, though.
4. Kare Kano
Yes, a shojo manga (a manga for underage girls). The main difference between this manga and other girly mangas is that it focus a relationship that starts in the second volume… of 21 volumes. If you ever read a shojo manga, it’s about a girl in school that falls in loves with a guy that is awesome but they can never get together, and then she has a friend, and this is friend is way cool than the guy that she felt in love, but you know it’s not going to happen between them, so on and so forth… and then they get together in the very last chapter. Kare Kano is not that type of manga. It tells the story of Miyazawa Yukino, that loves to receive compliments, so she trains, study and practice really hard to be the perfect student and the perfect girl. But then, another guy enters her school: Soichiro Arima. He is the perfect guy. Like, really, he is everything that she wants to be. Now, this is sounding way to feminine (even for me), but the fact is we get to focus more on the relationship, that stays strong, than the mishaps of why they don’t get together. And spoiler, they have sex on volume 7, so it’s not that old stale thing from shojo, they are real people.
3. Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro
As one of my favorite genres in literature is the murder mystery suspense, I really was in doubt of what should go into this list: Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro or Detective Conan (Case Closed). Both of them are excellent manga and should be read, but I prefer Neuro in the long run. Neuro is a devil that feeds on mysteries, however, the mysteries on hell are too trivial and stupid, so he comes to the surface, because humans are so cool. However, he can’t blow his cover and he must solve the mystery to be able to consume it, so he befriends a girl named Katsuragi Yako, whose father was murdered recently and the case was without a solution. The demon Neuro pretends to be only her assistance, but he is the one that gets behind the crime solving… for most part. This is one of the few mangas that you can see her evolving: at first, she has no clue of what’s going on; at the end, she’s taking mysteries on her own… hard ones, even. My favorite idea is that, when the criminal is surrounded with the truth and has no way to escape, his face transforms into a twisted facet of his personality. I really can’t cite any examples because it would ruin one mystery, but it’s great.
From the same duo that brought us Death Note, Bakuman comes in my second place. First of all, I love the work of Takeshi Obata so much I considered putting in second place “every single thing he worked on”, but I really hate those gimmicks. Takeshi Obata can make watching the grass grow intriguing: case in point, Hikaru no Go. It’s a Manga about Go. Imagine a comic about chess and you’re pretty much in the same ballpark. “It must be awful”, it’s not, it’s great. And I don’t think I have to defend Death Note, do I? The guy has the hand of god as far as I’m concerned. Bakuman is about mangakas and that’s where it spiked my interest. It’s a slice of life manga, and a really well made at that, where we follow the life of two students that want to make manga for Shonen Jump. But drawn and written by the guys from Death Note. They mention exactly how it works, the characters are humane, we have humor, and we root for them. And all they are doing is trying to make ends meet being mangakas. The drawing is amazing and it ended recently, so it counts.
1. Yu Yu Hakusho
“This is Urameshi Yusuke. He’s sixteen, he’s a delinquent, he smokes, he enters fights, he steal from stores. He could be the hero of this story, but unfortunately… he dies”. That’s how the story starts. I remember reading that opening line and thinking “this manga is going to be amazing”. And it is. Yusuke is a guy that barely went to school, smokes, got into fights, was feared by his peers… and then, one day, after being suspended from school, finds a kid in the street playing with a ball. He tells the kids, in an sporadic feat of goodness, not to play on the road, because it’s dangerous. The kid ignores him and keeps playing until the ball ends up in the middle of traffic, so he goes to get it. When a car approaches, Yusuke doesn’t even think twice: he jumps, saves the kid but… dies in the process. However, because of this so sporadic move by Yusuke, no one was expecting it. Not even heaven or hell! So he had no place to go to! If Yusuke hadn’t intervened, the kid would had survived miraculously without any harm! So Yusuke has to prove himself worthy of being resurrected to go back. After that, it becomes a full-fledged battle manga, and the transition works: it’s one of the few battle mangas ever where the enemy wasn’t bent on world domination. It has 19 volumes and it sure as hell deserves a reading.
This is my top 5 favorite finished manga. Agree, disagree? Leave your comments below. This is JotaKa, signing off.