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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
New Smithson! 
19th-Oct-2006 07:55 am

Chuck's T-shirt is actually a superhero logo shirt, but for a comic book that only exists in his world. It'll probably come up again; I'd like to include more fictional comics in Smithson from time to time.

And there's always new stuff going up on the Art of Smithson site. Lately, Brian's been posting lots of my early Smithson artwork, which serves mainly to illustrate why I have other people draw the comic for me. Also, I've got to update the cast page images. The Nerd Rock Mix will soon be replaced with the Street Mix, which I've drawn but still have to color.

Okay, time for Part Two of the first Overlooked Manga Festival Special Event!

In the last thrilling Overlooked Manga Festival, I asked some American manga editors for their manga recommendations. This week, I've got a few more lists to round out the survey.

Pancha Diaz is an editor at Viz whose credits include Death Note and Nana.

Nausicaa, by Hayao Miyazaki. My favorite manga, ever.

Skip Beat. Makes me laugh every time I edit the script, and then again when I edit the lettered pages.
Blade of the Immortal. I love the art in this, and haven't read as much as I should have.
Red River. Time travel adventure romance? I'm there.
Nana. It does start out slow, but I've gotten ahead to the good stuff. Super drama.

Gokusen. Pure awesome, but not available in English yet (legally, anyway).
Naruto. Hot ninja action. Oh yeah!
Shaman King. I know the ending is shit, but I love the comparative religion stuff. Also, rocking pompador, Ryu.
Planetes. A really engaging story, unlike most of the other manga I have read. It seemed like a sci-fi story that just happened to be in comic form.
Yakitate! Japan. Totally wicked bread action.

Thanks, Pancha!

Finally, I obviously can't restrain myself from weighing in. Here are my personal Top Ten Manga Published in English, Ever.

1. Phoenix, by Osamu Tezuka
Like you can beat Phoenix. This three-decade roller-coaster ride from the God of Manga has everything: sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, and an endless parade of patented Tezuka what-the-fuck moments. And, of course, of all of Tezuka's work, only Phoenix has scored its own Overlooked Manga Festival entry!

2. Black Jack, by Osamu Tezuka
Sorry, but there's no way I can choose just one Tezuka manga. Viz published two volumes of this crazed two-fisted medical drama, and I just wish there were more. And that those two volumes weren't long out of print. Bah.

3. A, A', by Moto Hagio

In the annals of manga, Moto Hagio is often considered second only to Tezuka. But only a smattering of her work has been published in English: the short sci-fi story "They Were Eleven" (published in the out-of-print collection Four Shojo Stories), the very short but stunning "Hanshin" (published in last year's all-shojo issue of The Comics Journal), and this anthology of three linked sci-fi stories. This was one of the first manga I ever read (thanks, Mee-Lise!), and it's still one of my favorites. Somebody publish more Hagio, please!

4. Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, by Hayao Miyazaki
Come on, you can't call yourself a nerd and not be a giant Nausicaa fan. The only lengthy manga by animation genius Miyazaki, this postapocalyptic fantasy is a very un-manga-like manga, taking its visual cues from European cartoonists, especially Miyazaki's pal Moebius. If you've only seen the anime, you have to check out the manga, which goes much further and takes the story down unexpected paths. Go for the most recent Viz edition, which replicates the oversized format and sepia ink of the Japanese original.

5. Swan, by Kyoko Ariyoshi

This one's getting the Overlooked Manga treatment somewhere down the line. Until then, if you want my thoughts on it, you can check out my review in the aforementioned all-shojo Comics Journal. It's about ballet, it's unabashedly girly, and it's one of the most gorgeous comics I've ever seen. Every page blows my mind with incredible collage layouts and gallons of soul. The story's good, too. CMX deserves some kind of humanitarian medal for putting this out despite the extremely low probability that American audiences are ready for totally brilliant ballet manga.

6. Maison Ikkoku, by Rumiko Takahashi
The best Rumiko Takahashi manga, and I love me some Takahashi. This is just a rock-solid romantic comedy; it drags a little around the two-thirds mark but rallies for a perfect ending. I cry throughout the entire final volume. You know the page from Maison Ikkoku I posted last week? "The woman I love, Kozue..."? I got choked up scanning it, and then again typing in the HTML. I'm a big soppy wreck. It's pathetic.

7. The Drifting Classroom, by Kazuo Umezu
Here I try to salvage my tough-guy image by giving the thumbs-up to eleven volumes of graphically-rendered child endangerment, torture, and murder. I'm pleased as punch that Umezu's work is finally getting published in English, and Drifting Classroom is an unforgettable horror classic. Why, it even has an Overlooked Manga Festival entry!

8. From Eroica with Love, by Yasuko Aoike
Another Overlooked Manga pick, not to mention another awesome 1970s shojo manga from CMX. This one has been getting more and more entertaining as it goes along; I'm sure eventually it'll run out of steam or jump the shark or whatever, but, as of Volume 7, Aoike is still clearly having no end of campy fun with it.

9. Domu, by Katsuhiro Otomo

Okay, okay, Akira is Otomo's magnum opus, but I want to call attention to this strong early work, which packs the sum totality of its psychic powers into a single explosionational volume. The final scene should be studied intently by all students of graphic storytelling.

10. The Push Man, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Short stories by the pioneer of gekiga, manga for grownups. Tatsumi is kind of the Will Eisner of Japan, pushing the comics medium forward with literary-minded stories that mostly involve people enduring horrible fates in oppressive midcentury urban jungles. Crude but powerful.

Originally, I didn't think I could come up with a list of my top untranslated manga, since I mostly just read the stuff that comes out in official English translation. But when I gave it some thought, I had no trouble coming up with a long list of manga I'd like to see on this side of the Pacific (mostly, I admit, old shojo manga). My top ten:

1. Everything by Moto Hagio
I'd kill to edit her recent series Otherworld Barbara, which looks and sounds amazing, and I'd also love to see her older stuff translated. Can't someone at least do The Poe Family? It's about vampires! And they angst around a lot! It's money in the bank!

2. The Rose of Versailles, by Ryoko Ikeda
Like Jason Thompson said last week, one volume was translated into English in the 1980s, for students learning English in Japan. It's never really been available in America, and it's great.

3. Song of the Wind and Trees, by Keiko Takemiya
Along with Hagio's "Heart of Thomas," this is one of the stories that pioneered the "boys' love" genre. Some enterprising publisher should do a high-end "Yaoi Classics" series reprinting all this stuff.

4. Doraemon, by Fujiko Fujio
This extremely popular kiddie manga made both of the Japanese top-ten lists I posted last week, and now I'm curious about it. It's actually got a hilarious premise: schoolboy Nobita is destined to grow up to be such a phenomenal loser that he destroys his family for generations to come, so his descendents send him a time-traveling robot cat to help him. Unfortunately, the cat, Doraemon, is almost as big a screwup as his master. In addition to being funny, this seems like such a quintessentially Japanese concept: "You have brought shame upon your family! Have a happy robot cat!" But I kid Japan.

5. Nasu (Eggplant), by Iou Kuroda
A series of short stories connected only by the fact that they all involve eggplants in some way. Viz published one of Kuroda's other manga, Sexy Voice and Robo, which is probably due for an Overlooked Manga.

6. Galaxy Express 999, by Leiji Matsumoto
The original series, not the 1980s relaunch published by Viz way back when. I just like Matsumoto's sketchy, loopy art.

7. Tomorrow's Joe, by Tetsuya Chiba
Another genre I'd like to see in English: old-school sports manga! Tomorrow's Joe sounds a little darker and meatier than some of the other beloved sagas in which earnest young men with bushy eyebrows are tortured in the name of athletic greatness, so it goes on the list.

8. Candy Candy, by Yumiko Igarashi
This coming-of-age shojo soap opera is another oldie but goodie. It's been a hit all over Asia and in the better parts of Europe, so why not here?

9. Banana Bread Pudding, by Yumiko Oshima
Shojo scholar Matt Thorn calls this oddball short story his favorite manga, so of course I want to read it.

10. Pluto, by Naoki Urusawa
I'm pretty confident we'll be getting this one in official English translation one of these days. Urusawa has requested that his manga be published in a certain order, so Viz has to put out Monster and Twentieth Century Boys (both of which are awesome) first. But soon, I hope, the time will come for Pluto, the Watchmen of Astro Boy stories (seriously). I'd also like to see some of Urusawa's early hits, especially Master Keaton.

And there you have it. If that's not enough manga to keep you busy for a while, I give up.

19th-Oct-2006 01:55 pm (UTC) - Chuck's Shirt
*blink blink*

Oh good lord.
20th-Oct-2006 03:18 am (UTC) - Re: Chuck's Shirt
This was inevitable. You knew it.
19th-Oct-2006 03:31 pm (UTC)
My greatest comics find to date: I was wandering around my college bookstore (as I often did, with flat pockets) and found four of the digest-sized Nausicaa volumes put out by Viz ... in the discount/remaindered bin. I think they were a few dollars apiece. (I wish that the current volumes had kept the English SFX; it always takes me out of the story to flip back and forth to the glossary to see what this or that noise is ... grumble grumble ..)

19th-Oct-2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
Domu has the single best angry-child panel ever. The facial expression is so perfect. When I see a real kid doing it, I run for cover.

I am doing my part to help Swan by giving copies to my sister. Everybody who's ever taken ballet lessons could enjoy at least a few volumes, I think.
20th-Oct-2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
Domu was... as the kids say... the shit.

At least I think they say that.
30th-Oct-2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
Just an errata note: Song of the Wind and Trees was actually written by Takemiya Keiko.

Otherwise, so I am not just a random nitpicker wandering by, thanks for doing this series! It's great seeing some series that I love getting more recognition and getting recs for things that I haven't heard of!
(Deleted comment)
26th-Mar-2007 07:56 am (UTC)
Just found this site and loving every minute of it--finally a manga blog with someone who seems to share my taste in manga (particularly 1970s shoujo).

Rose of Versailles had *2* English vols translated by Schodt. I have both but they were edited in such a way that some of the page layouts are ruined. There is a very good french translation though (I actually prefer Ikeda's Orpheus Window--which had a sequel that she wrote but didn't draw a few years back--another histyorical revolutionary epic with a girl who pretends to be a boy but this time in Russia)

Basically I think at least a few titles by every "49er" deserve to be translated. I'm hoping Vertical has some success with To Terra (even if techynically it's shonen I count it as Shoujo) and that leads to more 70s works from Takemiya and Hagio (actually Takemiya had some really neat and VERY different, art wise, 80s mangas about gay and straight university studetns in London--good stuff). From Hagio I'd most like to see Poe Family and her recent heartbreaking epic about male sexual abuse (among other things) A Cruel God Governs...

Would also love to see some of Akimi Yoshida's post nad pre Banaa Fish works (I hope Viz at least will publish the very short spin off series).

And finally I'm fascinated by a shoujo manga that predates the "49ers"--Fire! by MIZUNO Hideko which Manga Manga has a short descriptiona nd beautiful page from--it was the first shoujo work to deal with death, sexs, drugs and is about a rock and roller going thru the 60s counterculture--it just looks so insanely melodramatically good while also being one of the manga titles that really led to the 70s shoujo boom (what's annoying about these older shoujo titles is even scanlation groups are basically ignoring them)

26th-Apr-2007 08:03 pm (UTC) - re: Poe no Ichizoku
Shaenon, I plan on looking at your work and sites you contribute to later, but I wanted to jump in here for a moment and let you know that my Japanese husband and I just started a blog devoted to the translation and in-depth (but fun, I promise) discussion of Hagio's "Poe no Ichizoku." We're going to be ambitious and try to translate it in its entirety (and eventually, as much of her best work as we can, if possible).

Yeah, this work of hers is extremely layered, complex, and poignant. The artwork is amazing, too--so dynamic and cinematic. She just stretches the manga form to another level. I'm just really surprised no one has officially translated it up until now. Only a tiny amount of her work has, in fact, been published in English, right?

The site is at http://ponoichizoku.blogspot.com. Hope you will stop by!

16th-Jul-2008 05:54 am (UTC)
It's not meant to be absorbed in its entirety, and there is so much of it that it is overwhelmingly depressing.
23rd-Apr-2010 03:15 am (UTC)
i love Osamu Tezuka art work.



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