Jade’s Top Manga Reads for 2009

Uzumaki (Junji Ito) One of the best manga I’ve read in a while. It’s suspenseful without being over-the-top. For a horror, it has the right amount of illusion to make the story believable. Junjo Ito’s detailed drawing style helps make gore believable.

Tegami Bachi (Hiroyuki Asada) It’s appeal is atypical, which is why I love Tegami Bachi so much! Translated as Letter Bee for English speakers, Tegami Bachi follows Lag Seeing as he and a Letter Bee named Gauche, journeys across Amberground to deliver Lag to his aunt. After being delivered, Lag decides to re-unite with Gauche by becoming a Letter Bee.

Tail of the Moon (Rinko Ueda) This manga is so engaging because it’s funny and historical. The best part? It has ninjas! I know, I know, ninjas aren’t always great in a story–my apologies to Ninja Girls fans–but in Tail of the Moon, I fell in love with the characters, Usagi and Hanzo. Usagi is sent to Hanzo’s village to marry him and become a successful shinobi (female ninja), but he doesn’t want to marry anyone. Upon learning of Usagi’s lack of ninja skills, Hanzo decides to train her for qualifying as a ninja. Unfortunately, many side plots and characters deter Usagi from meeting her original assignment. Every manga in this series leaves a cliffhanger, and you can’t help but laugh at the comedy produced by a somewhat gifted yet klutzy non-ninja girl.

Beast Master (Kyousuke Motomi) It’s just as it sounds: someone becomes a master of beasts…sort of. Yuiko loves animals, but they hate her smothering love. Leo resembles an animal with wild eyes. When Yuiko and Leo meet, they form an unlikely (platonic) bond that saves Leo from reverting to his primal instincts of violence. It’s such a hilarious manga–imagine Ouran High School Host Club hilarity meets Wild Animal Planet–and the characters are downright loveable, even the yakuza characters.

High School Debut (Kazune Kawahara) This manga is in the same category as Tail of the Moon. Funny, smart, and a bit crazy, High School Debut reminds me of the days I wish I had a Find-Me-A-Boyfriend coach when I was always just one of the guys. It’s probably the reason why I like it so much. Tomboy Haruna enters high school in hopes of finding a boyfriend, but her lack of fashion and her boyish ways don’t work for guys, so she enlists the help of Yoh, a cold yet popular pretty boy with a seemingly deep grudge towards girls. Somehow, Haruna’s naive yet strong resolve breaks down Yoh’s walls. Once again, Host Club antics, strong girls, and questionable yet humorous premises make me a sucker for stories like High School Debut.