Manga of the Year

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Akagami no Shirayuki-hime

Manga of the year is a lot harder to do than Anime of the year. A manga can be completed in Japan, but is still published overseas or the scanlations are not that fast. Also, if it’s not by a famous manga-ka, a new manga is usually not even translated starting chapter 1. Scanlators and official publishers alike usually pick popular manga to translate, so there’s a lot of stuff I can’t possibly have read, simply because there’s no translation available – and in some cases not even raws.

Another problem is the longevity of manga. Of course there are great short manga, but more popular manga tend to run a lot longer than your average anime (12-24 episodes), especially when the title is published semi-monthly (Fruits Basket) or monthly (Fullmetal Alchemist) and the magazines sometimes skip a week/month, too.

To make a long story short: I’ve read way too much to remember everything I read, you usually don’t start reading a manga starting from the first chapter published in Japan, especially when you don’t live in Japan and long runners such as Conan or Ippo will probably still going in 10 years from now, so I’m just going with whatever I still remember I read this year. I’ll try choosing titles that left an impression on me.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso already appeared on my anime of the year list

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Ichi Ni No San!

and it’s here again. I’d like to mention this one, because I rooted a lot for a happy ending, even though I knew it would end up having tragic ending. It was well done and you need some guts to kill off a main character.

Shokugeki no Soma has also been on my anime of the year list and I started reading the manga because of the anime. Especially in recent chapters there’s been a lot going on and when Azami took over the school, it feld like every new chapter came with a huge new surprise and that was very cool.

Diamond no Ace Act II started off on the really wrong foot with me, so it’s mostly negative memories I have with this one. It’s still more Furuya no Ace, even though every idiot should see just how much Sawamura is worth. The manga-ka is in love with Furuya and that’s super annoying. That’s the reason it was even more satisfying when Miyuki “said” about Sawamura: “Make them realize that you exist!” in chapter 13 and in chapter 14 Sawamura delivered a flawless game, exceeding the expectations from every single person in the stadium. That was cool. Unfortunately the focus is yet again on someone else…

Hirunaka no Ryuusei is a nice Shoujo with a surprising twist at the end. Suzume is in love with her teacher, an old childhood friend of hers, and I have to admit in most manga like this, the girl gets her man. However, in this case, even though he fell in love with her as well, he pushed her away and she got together with another guy. He realized too late, that she won’t just come back and in the end, she decides to let go of him an stay with her current boyfriend. While the end was disappointing for me, because I was rooting for the teacher, it was nice to see a manga actually going for this route.

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Sakamoto desu ga?

Sakamoto desu ga? will soon be over and there haven’t been that many chapters scanlated this year, but I’m super excited every time I see a new one. It’s a manga I enjoy a lot, because it’s a great parody of the perfect guy every girl falls in love with. It’s so overexeggerated that it’s absurd and it’s one hell of a joy to read that. It doesn’t even follow a real plot, it’s just Sakamoto reacting to everyday life situations or dealing with jealous guys.

Blue Sky Complex is a yaoi manga I recently discovered and I like it especially because it’s less about two guys being in love as opposed to two people being in love. The former hetero partner doesn’t care at all that his new partner is a guy, because he fell in love with the person and not the gender. It’s also quite funny the delinquent ends up as the uke and the more serious and silent former hetero guy is the seme.  You’d expect it the other way around.

My two top contenders for Manga of the Year 2015 are Piano no Mori and Ballroom e Youkoso. A story about a boy who learns the piano and another story about competitive ballroom dancing. That’s just so much like me. Both manga are being scanlated, but both are behind in recent chapters. Ballroom saw a few more scanlations lately, but I’m desperately following

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Ballroom e Youkoso

the raws as well. The characters and energy this manga delivers are amazing. I’ve done ballroom dancing myself and it’s really hard, so I can relate to it. Piano no Mori on the other hand was finished in Japan this year and the scanlations still have a long way to go, but it was a great and very satisfying ending, even without understanding a single world. Let’s just hope the actual translation won’t ruin it for me.

After all, I guess Ballroom e Youkoso makes the cut and is my manga 2015. I’ve been obsessed with it from the day I discovered it and I would love to see a proper anime  adaptation – that usually means more popularity and faster scanlations.

30 Days Manga Challenge

Day 01 – Your very first manga

The first manga I ever read was Detective Conan back when only a handfull of volumes had been released in Germany. It was at a friend’s house and I got totally hoocked up. This started my manga obsession. 🙂

The first manga I actually owned was Ghost in the Shell. I bought it because I’d seen the anime on TV (in the middle of the night when I was supposed to be sleeping) and I still have all 3 volumes.


Day 02 – Your favorite manga

It’s a very close call between “REAL” by Takehiko Inoue and “Fullmetal Alchemist” by Arakawa Hiromu, but in the end REAL takes the cake. FMA is still my favorite shounen and I love it to death, but REAL made me cry and believe me, I hardy ever cry when watching movies or reading books/comics. I watched Black Beauty and Titanic without shedding a single tear, but REAL touched me so deep like none other manga ever has. It’s so well written, it makes you go onto an emotional rollercoaster with characters that really feel like they’re humans. There are no heroes, there’s no magic, there’s just people who struggle to survive with diabilties in our society where you need to “function” well.


Day 03 – Your favorite mangaka

Surprise, surprise, it’s Takehiko Inoue. Who would’ve thought? Well, it’s not just because of REAL, it’s because he created 3 of my most favorite manga of all time: There’s REAL about disabled people and wheelchair basketball, Vagabond about Miyamoto Musashi and last but not least Slam Dunk about High School Basketball.

I’ve never cared much about historical manga, but Vagabond still keeps me interested after all this time. I especially like the philosophical aspect.

Slam Dunk is the sole reason why I love sports manga so much and personally I still have to find another highschool shounen sports manga as good as Slam Dunk. It may have been published first in 1990 and is therefore 25 years old now, but still the best sports shounen out there, period.


Day 04 – A character you feel you are most like (or wish you were)

I honestly think there’s none. I’m not the type of character that get’s much attention in a manga, because I’m so freaking average. I have my fair share of horrible decisions in my life so far, but I try to make the best out of it and even though I’m a bit rough around the edges, I care about others a lot. I don’t have a character I identify with.


Day 05 – A manga you would recommend to everyone

Even though REAL is my favorite manga, it’s not a manga I would recommend to just anyone, because of it’s complicated topic. Sports is not everyone’s cup off tea and take the whole disabled people part as well… it’s really not made for the masses.

Therefore, Fullmetal Alchemist is my choice this time around. It’s a great adventure of two brothers who just want their bodies back and find themselves in a war that will determine the future of their country. They’re forced to grow up, set their priorities straight and choose their right path while never letting go of their strong honest morals.

For girls, I highly recommend Lovely Complex. Simply the best RomCom by far. Risa and Ootani have such great chemistry and it takes them a while until they finally get it together. It’s not always easy to cross the bridge between friends and lovers and they need to grow together. It’s funny and incredibly cute.


Day 06 – Your favorite character

This changes by the day, but one character I’d like to point out is Vash the Stampede. Please keep in mind the anime is very different from the manga and I personally think the manga is a lot better, because it has more time to develop it’s characters. You thought Wolfwoods death in the anime was sad? When he died alone in a church? Please, that was nothing. His manga death beautifully reflected his frienship towards Vash, who did his very best to support his dear friend until the very end.

Even though Vash is usually protrayed as a goofy peace loving idiot, he’s so much more than that, as he has the most pure soul you can think of and cares so deeply for other people. After living among humans for such a long time, he gained a deep understanding of what “life” means to them and how important friendship is. Compared to him, Knives is nothing but a clueless brat.


Day 07 – A manga you disliked enough to stop reading

Oh dear, where to begin? I’ve dropped quite a few manga, but how about I make me some enemies today? I dropped Vampire Knight after 15 chapters of pure disappointment. You see, during that time, this manga was very popular and I wanted to try it out for a while, but when I did I couldn’t get past the first 3 volumes. I just couldn’t.

I’m not very fond of Vampire stories, but it’s not like I hate all of them in general. I read a few that I really liked. What disappointed me so much in this story to the point of dropping it alltogether, was the very very poor foreshadowing. It’s so frustrating when you already know what’s going to happen all the time and when you guess every plot twist right, because it’s so damn obvious. It’s like there’s someone sitting besides you constantly wispering into your ear what will happen.


Day 08 – The most annoying character

I have a nice burining hate for Kikyou from Inu Yasha. She’s a very tragic character, yeah sure, but she wouldn’t die! She was standing between InuxKago for so long and was wandering on eath as a walking corpse way longer than needed. She simply overstayed her welcome by a lot.


Day 09 – A manga you’d like to see more of

Seven Days. This manga is so believable and cute, I wanted to read more so bad it’s not even funny. You know, there are stories with a really good and satisfyling end that leaves you finished and happy. Fullmetal Alchemist had such an end. However, Seven Days ends where others only just start. I do understand why it ended there, but I really would’ve wanted to know more about their relationship and how it went in all detail after they honestly got together.


Day 10 – A manga that makes you fluffy and happy when you read it

Well, Seven Days certainly fits this desciption, but I’ll be going with another one today. I’m a bit torn between “My Girl” by Yumeka Sumomo and “Densha Otoko” by Nakano Hitori.

Do you remember the hype around “Usagi Drop”? It even got an anime, but there’s a reason they only animated the first part of the manga. The second part is just simply bad and the end ruins the entire manga. My Girl is what Usagi Drop could have been. It’s cute and cuddly without a very weird ending that borders on pedophilia.

Densha Otoko is based on a true story about  a shy guy meeting a women and telling the internet about it. The guys in the chat room are cheering for him and giving him advice. This manga is basically a collection of the original posts and it’s just awesome to read. When the two finally get together, the entire chat room is going nuts.


Day 11 – Your first manga crush

Heiji Hattori from Detective Conan. Shinichi? Who needs that guy anyway? Even though these “crush” times have been gone long, I still look forward the the cases with Heiji involved the most. He’s my favorite character from this manga this won’t change.


Day 12 – A manga you used to love but don’t anymore

I used to love Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne a lot when I was younger, but this was more than 10 years ago and I’ve kind of gotten over this manga now. My interests have shifted away and I’m more into other stories now. This doesn’t mean I don’t like the manga anymore I used to like when I started reading manga 14 years ago – I still read Conan and I still like it. Or another example: I was super sad when Inu Yasha ended, because it was one of my first manga as well and it was the first long running series that I read from start to finish and I still like it as well. It’s just… I’ve really gotten over Jeanne.


Day 13 – The most epic scene ever

There are so many epic scenes in action manga, it’s very hard to pick one. Since I don’t want to pick the same manga again and again and again, I will not pick the scene from Fullmetal Alchemist where Edward just got his right arm back and is therefore able to transmutate again after he ripped a piece of metal out of his own arm (which was pretty damn epic in itself), he gave “father ” a good old punch in the guts. The big conclusion and the last big fights of FMA were basically one big huge clutch of epicness.

What I’m going with today, is the scene where Ikki from Air Gear is announced “Storm King”. The entire build up was huge and he always wanted to be the Sky King of the Wing Road that Sora was and eventually ended up as the Storm King of the Hurricane Road. Just how awesome is that? The manga eventually ended up drifiting in weird directions, but during that time is was still very cool and like I said, the entire build up to the Storm King announcement was huge, so it felt even more epic.


Day 14 – A manga that makes you cry.

Like I said, I don’t really cry. I cried in REAL and I did Tigun Maximum.


Day 15 – The saddest scene

Wolfwoods death in the manga Trigun Maximum. Yeah that’s the reason I cried while reading this manga. I’ve reread the manga at least 4 times or so and I had tears in my eyes every single time I reach this scene. It’s so sad, it’s not even funny and because I know when it’s happening, I’m getting sad early.


Day 16 – A manga that isn’t licensed but SHOULD be.

Ballroom E Youkoso, this is my current obsession and I want more and more. A manga I’ve wanted licensed in Germany for a long time and it’s probably never going to happen is Kami no Shizuku. I’ve given up on it, I really did. I have the french version, though. My French is bad, but still better than reading the japanese raws.


Day 17 – A manga that you feel embarrassed about liking

Manga Love Story? It’s basically soft porn. My gosh… This thing has more than 300 chapters, at least I’ve read 365 and I stopped reading this manga ages ago. God knows how many chapters have been published by now.

I liked it back then, because it was kind of  fun and I didn’t stop reading because I started to dislike it. I guess I just grew tired of it.


Day 18 – Favorite BL/yuri couple

There are so many! Especially BL, because I hardly ever read GL. I love Mookyul x Ewon from Totally Captivated, they’re super hot. Seryou x Shino from Seven Days are totally on the cute side of the spectrum and I love them just as much.

Day 19 – A manga that you disliked at first but came to enjoy later on

This is a hard one. I usually don’t continue reading a manga that I dislike for too long. I guess the closest I ever came to “dislike at first, enjoy later” is Bambino. It was okay-ish from the start, but not enough to keep me reading. I dopped it for a while and later picked it up again and enjoyed it enough to finish it.


Day 20 – A manga you started out enjoying but ended up not liking as much

Bleach? I was a huge fan back in the days. I marathoned through the first 30 episodes or so until I reached the most recent episode and started reading the manga after that. The beginning is awesome with the Soul Society Arc and it’s climax. After that, it totally went down the river, though. I stopped watching the anime a long time ago and I’m only still reading it, because I want to finish it after sticking with it for more than 9 years now.

And for Ichi x Ruki. There’s been a disturbing lack of scenes lately with Ichigo and Rukia side by side.


Day 21 – A manga that deserves more recognition

Since I like reading more unusual stuff, I could easily name at least 10 manga in serious need for some more recognition. Above all of them, is obviously my favorite manga: REAL by Takehiko Inoue. It’s a very highly rated manga, but not everyone’s cup of tea. The people who read this manga usually love it, but barely anyone reads it and there’s the problem.

I’d also like to point out “Rough” by Adachi Mitsuru, my personal favorite out of the huge pool of manga he’s written. I guess he’s most well known for Cross Game (especially in more recent times), H2 and Touch. I’ve always preferred “Rough”, because the main leads start off on the wrong foot, on a VERY wrong foot, but end up with believable feelings for each other.


Day 22 – A manga you wish didn’t exist

Vampire Knight by Hino Matsuri. This manga was super hyped a while back and everyone told me I should read it. After the hype had died down a bit, I gave this manga a try and read 15 chapters, before dropping it in utter disappointment. I was able to foresee all of the main plot points, the forshadowing was so bad and characters so bland, I wish I would’ve never even tried it.


Day 23 – Best anime villain

It’s fairly easy to name the strongest villains, or the creepiest, but the “best” is on an entirely different page. I guess for me it’s Greed from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, because he starts off as a villain and even though it’s just a humunculus, who personifies “greed”, during his time with Ling, he learns some very human traits and even gives his life to save Ling.


Day 24 – The best long manga series

This entirely depends on what you think is “long”, but I’m going with Fullmetal Alchemist. Best shounen out there, but quite short with only 116 chapters. I wanted to go with 200+ chapters, but since FMA was monthly and was running for 9 years, it made the cut. Otherwise, it would’ve been Slam Dunk. Until this day, I treat this manga as the blueprint of the typical high school sports manga – and so far, it was never reached. It’s great.


Day 25 – The last manga you read

Vinland Saga chapter 123, another long running manga and a great one on top of that. Historical setting in the Viking era, lot’s of blood and gore in the first part, even more farming in the second part, but still worth read nonetheless. Right now in the third part, it’s more of an adventure manga. It’s interesting.


Day 26 – The best manga oneshot

I don’t really read “real” one shots. The ones I usually read are special chapters to other manga, like the Ouran specials for example. I’m very fond of “FAKE: Like, Like, Love” that basically shows who ended up with whom and we got to see older Bikki, which was cool. From the few independent ones I read, I guess I liked Souten no Koumori by Arakawa Hiromu the most.


Day 27 – A manga you would never buy

I’ve read 450+ manga and there’s a ton I would never buy. For example, most manga on my “dropped” list or any manga rated lower than 5. For example, Beach Stars, Juicy Cider, Sorairo Ageha, Vampire Knight, Dengeki Daisy, Toscana no Yuuutsu and much more.


Day 28 – A manga you think is so brilliant it’s like literature

REAL by Takehiko Inoue  or 20th Century Boys by Urasawa Naoki. Fantastic works.


Day 29 – A manga you read that was just plain weird

I like reading weird stuff and it’s by now it’s fairly hard to surprise me, but I guess I go with Yakitate Japan. The infamous bread manga, that’s totally over the top. For real, the villain actually transforms into bread in the final face off and the reactions during the tasting is just off the charts.


Day 30 – Your favorite anime opening/ending theme

There’s so much, I’m doing a seperate post for this.

Fullmetal Alchemist vs Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (SPOILERS, obviously)

fullmetal1_335x500This… is a petpeeve of mine. I’m a huge fan of the manga, it’s still one of my favorite manga of all time and I think it’s really really well done. And then there are the two anime adaptations and the wars fought over which one is better.

Obviously, everyone can like whatever version they think is better, but there have always been a few arguments I’ve never understood and defenders of the 2003 series usually have certain problems in the anime they just simply straight out overlook. That being said, of course I’m not overlooking the fact that the 2003 series did a mostly wonderful job covering the manga until the story sets off into a different direction and Brotherhood rushed through this part way too fast, not really doing it the justice it deserves.

Character depth. I hear it again and again and again: the 2003 series is supposed to have more character depth. That is interesting, considering half of the backstories of important characters are simply missing and Brotherhood/Manga had much more time to actually develop it’s characters and half the cast in the 2003 series was effectively turned into emos, which does not equal great characters development.

Scar_end.jpgThink what you want, believe that Scar is better portayed in the 2003 series, bercause he goes from villain to tragic hero, even though in Brotherhood he goes from brutal villain, to ally, to working under Olivia Armstrong to rebuild his original nation and religion side by side with the Military of Amestris, finally having come to peace with his own past, looking to create a brigther future for his people. How is that worse than what the 2003 series did? I actually think he’s better portrayed.

79469Hohenheim, don’t get me started. He has a much more complicated and better portayed past in Brotherhood compared to the 2003 series. He’s a fullgrown badass alchemist and a pathetic father at the same time, what makes an actually really likable and a very nice character. He’s got some very good points and some very bad ones and he really struggles to make up for his bad decisions regarding his family. The moment when Ed first called him his father? I cried like a baby. He was fooled, he was tricked by the Homunculus and ended up falling in love with a wonderful wife, unintentionally destroyed his family, having one of his sons hating him and successfully made up with said son, in the end dying at the grave of his beloved wife. Wow. Prime example of a way better rounded character.

Screenshot2009-11-15at22506PMAnd let’s not forget the amazing cast, that never made it into the 2003 series: Olivia Armstrong and her Briggs Army and the Xing people for example? They’re so badass. The overall badassness in the Brotherhood anime is way above the 2003 series anyway. Yeah, sure badassness doesn’t equal good characters either, but it damn well makes them even better.

FMA-Brotherhood-Created-Feelings-screencaps-edward-elric-and-winry-rockbell-7145332-1024-576However, my real problem lies with Ed and there’s one very specific point, where it’s actually pointed out by Mustang, what makes Brotherhood/Manga-Ed so much better and that’s after Al sacrificed himself to safe Ed, the Humunculus is beaten and they question how to get Al back. Someone, I think it was Riza, asked if Ed would sacrifice himself to bring his brother back, exactly what he did in the 2003 series. Mustang’s reply: Ed would never do that, because he knows what it feels like to be left alone and he wouldn’t dare to put his brother through that. Even though Edward goes from little brat to honorable hero, he stays true to his morals throughout the entire series and values life over absolutely everything. This inculdes his own life, because he realized as much as he needs his friends, his friends also need him and he can’t just throw his life away and leave them alone putting them in agony over his death. This is made even more clear, when he tells “God” he’s fine being a normal human without transmutation powers, because he has his friends with him. This Fullmetal_Alchemist_Brotherhood_Edwardgoes against everything he did in the 2003 series, with the entire “I safrifice myself for you”- bullsh*t.  But wait, didn’t Al die for Ed in Brotherhood? Right, because Al, being the more naive younger brother, didn’t realized the value of life the same way Ed did. Ed had a much greater understanding of his morals and how his decisions impact the lifes of those around him. And don’t get me started on his wonderfully awkward proposal and the kids he has with Winry. Man that was amazingly in character and easily the best proposal in a shounen I’ve ever seen.

And just let me tell you about the most prominent plot-whole that is usually forgotten: The homunculi are the portayal of the 7 deadly sins. In the 2003 series, they’re created by people who attempt human transmution and eventually they end up with all 7 deadly sins. All finde and dandy in the series, but think a bit further, because due to plot convenices, the anime never has another person attempt human transmutation. Why? Because there are no more deadly sins left. Would a new one just pop up? Would every further human transmutation horribly fail to the point that no homunculus is created, because all spots are taken at the moment? The creation of homunculi is the biggest plotwhole the anime has to deal with. Of course the alternate universe Nazi stuff didn’t made any sense either, but at least they explained it somewhat reasonable. The homunculi, there’s just no way they can get away with that explanation, because it doesn’t hold itself against a very simple question: what if an 8th person attempts a human transmutation? This simple question completely destroys the entire foundation of the entire anime.

And just for good reasons, have a badass Mustang, Riza and Armstrong pic.

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