Favorite Manga Purchases from 2011

Originally, I wanted to mark the end of the year with lists of my favorite fantasy manga, favorite romance manga, etc. that I read in 2011.  However, I realized I’d never finish that if I was going to include any reasons or descriptions of the choices.  So instead, I want to take a look at my favorite purchases in 2011.

I go through a lot of manga in a year.  Some of it I love, some of it… not so much. Such is the risk of exploring the great unknown in search of treasures.  As many of us can appreciate, manga can be expensive–particularly after this past year or so, the yen has strengthened against other currencies (especially if you use the dollar like me *sob*).  This causes us to be more selective about our purchases.  So it’s always satisfying when you buy a book that was just awesome and definitely worth your money!  Thinking of this, I revisited my 2011 manga purchases and tried to pick the top ten I was most satisfied with (but a few got lumped together by author because I’m such a stalker like that).  So in no particular order…

Merry Checker
I was so excited to see Merry Checker get a tank release at the beginning of 2011 that my excitement still hasn’t worn off!  I love the characters and hope there’s more big, cuddly, yet mischievous guys in our BL futures.

Hatarake, Kentauros
est em has a frightening grasp on how to make the perfect moe manga.  This was adorable in so many ways.

Docchi mo Docchi
Hiiragi Nozomu!  Such a fun title from her this year!  Ebihara was also very good.  A while back, she tweeted that the second Oyajina! book should be released towards the early portion of 2012.  I can’t wait!

Eroica Yori Ai wo Komete 1-38
I tried reading this years ago, but never managed to get past that awful–no, dreadful–first volume.  Little did I know that the glorious Major was awaiting me in volume 2.  Once I found him, boy did I love this series.  Enough to buy all 38 volumes.  Now that is a commitment.  Trafalgar was a completely unexpected masterpiece as well.

Nishi Keiko manga
I really started to explore the body of her work this year, so it’s hard picking just one.  It’s a toss-up between Koi to Gunkan 1 and Otoko no Isshou 1-3.  So much oyaji goodness. 2012 will be a big year for her stuff as well, as I plan on working through her back catalog and picking up her older BL-ish manga soon.

Chikutaku Bonbon 2
The second volume better established the story (and didn’t lose any pages to unrelated oneshots) and gave us such a cute, sweet thing.  Katsuta Bun is a lovely artist and I really enjoy her period pieces.  Unfortunately, it looks like this manga and Trafalgar could have a contest to earn the title of least popular manga on my blog in terms of searches/views, lol.  The third and final volume just came out.  Wait for me, Sango~

Super Lovers 3-4
Since I publicly declare my love of Abe Miyuki about once a week, this shouldn’t be a terrible surprise.  Ren is now older in the past two volumes and I love his curiosity and straight-forward/no nonsense approach to things that “complicates” things for Haru. :3  Also, the Hakkenden reprints are worth picking up.  I can’t wait until I get to buy the next volumes of both stories. Those will be a top purchases in 2012!

Zankoku na Kami ga Shihai Suru 1-17
It’s been a big year for collecting Hagio Moto manga and I’m quite pleased with the turnout, both in the quality of writing and the physical quality of the books themselves!  I haven’t had a chance to finish reading Poe no Ichizoku 1-2 Perfect Editions yet, but I’m happy I bought them.  Marginal would be up here if the last volume wasn’t so.. odd.  So we’ll say Marginal 1-4!

Yuuutsu na Asa / Hana wa Saku ka
I got my copies of both of these series this year for the sole purpose of archiving their greatness amongst my other books!  So gorgeous.  And soon to be joined by Hana wa Saku ka Volume 3.  Urg, more to test my patience.

While the others might not be in any particular order, I can pinpoint my personal top purchase of 2011

& 2
I gushed plenty about the manga on its blog entry, but volume 2 is where the story really took off.  I get a little flush just thinking about it.  I enjoy staring at every panel Yagai-sensei shows up in.  Volume 3 is out next month (although Shiro might be a big focus?! Gaaah!)

Sleepy puppy wondering why he must be bothered to pose with the winner. He only likes manga pictures when he photo bombs them.

Overall, it was a great year for finding gems.  Even narrowing the list down to ten choices was difficult.  I should be getting my last shipment of the year in a few days, so who knows, maybe it’s a bit premature!  Such is the nature of the great hunt–fresh prey is always around the corner. While there were some disappointing purchases, I can’t even think of a terrible stinker and total waste of money that I’d want to give to my dog to nest upon (Well, maybe Goulart Knights 1…).  It was a good year for manga (and a bad one for my bank account~).

8 responses to “Favorite Manga Purchases from 2011

  1. Hmm…I don’t get what the big fuss over vol. 1 of Eroica is. I mean, sure it was a bit (okay, a LOT) ridiculous, but everyone who recommended the series to me was like, “Pleeease skip the first volume”. I read it anyway, and it really isn’t bad. Crazy campy nonsense, yes, but better than most other BL I’ve read anyway.

    I wonder if something is wrong with me. I don’t like Abe Miyuki’s stories much (except Hakkenden, but that isn’t BL so it’s different in tone from her other works — and my personal love affair with fantasy + supernatural action-y shoujo manga guarantees it a sure place in my heart), yet every single person who at least remotely likes BL is crazy about her. I ditched Super Lovers after the first volume, am struggling to get past vol. 8 of Komatta, have never even felt like reading that 4-volume yaoi and the 1-volume BL about the twins (don’t remember their titles); Whiz Kid looks pretty good, but I haven’t been able to find the raws.
    But I love her art style — especially when it comes to backgrounds — though I can’t say I fancy her ‘standard uke design’ much, his eyes swallow up half his face <_<

    About Nishi Keiko; what are her stories like? I mean, what're they about? Is there a lot of romance in them? I'm not the biggest fan of stories that are only romance and slice-of-life, with nothing else going on.
    And I'm somewhat interested in Chikutaku Bonbon as well, but a little doubtful because I’ve never read anything by Katsuta Bun before. I suppose she’s another josei romance mangaka? (Those are the ones I know nothing about. I’m a seinen and non-romantic shoujo / josei reader for the most part)
    Is Goulart Kishidan that bad? I was thinking of reading it, but…

    I apologize for the sudden hail of questions (LOL). I tend to get carried away sometimes…or, well, most of the time >_<

    • The problem with Eroica Volume 1 is that it was a complete chore to finish, thus I didn’t want to continue on with the series. Most of it centered around the teenagers I didn’t care about and their ridiculous powers (so I blame them for me arriving late to the Eroica party). Compared to characters of Dorian and the Major (who carry the entire series for almost another 40 volumes), they just don’t have the staying power. If you know it’s going to be bad and were warned beforehand, perhaps it’s more tolerable. I had no warning and was like “wth is this shit and how many volumes are there of it?!”

      Hakkenden is my favorite Abe manga and is pretty much why I love her so much. It’s just that perfect for me. I’m not huge into Komahoshi myself and haven’t finished reading it, even though I own it all. Whiz Kid is okay and entertaining enough. The random BL volumes aren’t anything to write home about and Kimiboku was kinda pointless. I wouldn’t ditch Super Lovers after Volume 1 unless I planned on ditching BL as a whole, personally. I like Ren’s personality and approach to the whole thing.. it comes out more in volume 3/4ish. It’s also nice how it’s given time to develop, unlike many BL series which are structured: “Here’s two guys. They will fuck by the end of the volume. ENJOY!” For Abe, it’s all about Hakkenden, which is my personal perfection of shoujo fantasy and one of favorite manga ever and Super Lovers is pretty good too. I’d like to see more BL from the artistically matured Abe. The other stuff is pretty dated (and not terrible if you consider the years).

      Nishi Keiko—she writes about life and romance, two things I normally hate reading about. Yet I like her stuff. I’m not sure why—I think the women are more grounded in reality (I have a hard enough time finding female characters that I like as is). It’s not ridiculously fluffy, but they are imperfect romances that seem more honest and relateable than your ideal sparkly romance story. I usually find her men intriguing too. It’s hard to describe why I like her. At least I’m not alone.. she’s pretty highly regarded in Japan, Matt Thorn likes her work, and such.. She was nominated for the Manga Taisho Award (3rd) and Ane no Kekkon hit the best seller list. She writes shoujo, josei, and seinen and certainly isn’t regarded as just another josei romance mangaka.

      Katsuta Bun writes cute, sweet stories (lots of wispy lines, blushing faces for whatever reason) and is really good at creating an appropriate period setting. Please, Jeeves has some nice older England flare, Chikutaku has turn of the century Japan, etc. I’m curious to see how Chikutaku Bonbon ends. It certainly could make or break the series as a whole, but I can’t deny how much I loved Vol 2. The setting and Sango were very enjoyable.

      Goulart Kishidan was… umm, not good. I can think of many, many other things worth spending money on. If it feel into your lap for free, it might be worth wasting 10 minutes on…? Ha.

      • Thanks a lot for the info! Now I can just get Hatarake Kentarous and Kid’s Log without any qualms. I was wondering whether any of the other titles you mentioned might be worth putting those two on hold for, but going by what you said, well…I guess not.

        All in all this year I found way better seinen than shoujo / josei. Kuro x Hitsuji, Liar Game vol. 13 and Ultrabaroque Deprogrammer in particular were pretty good — obscure series though they may be. Shounen is, as always, generally uninteresting; though Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei vol. 27 had its trademark mix of insanity, satire and hilarity (pity it looks like the series will end soon). Frankly, I don’t get what the huge fuss over Shingeki no Kyoujin is about; it’s very good for a shounen but I wouldn’t say I’m head-over-heels in love with it…though when this comes from the person who thought Full Metal Alchemist wasn’t all that, guess it doesn’t say much XD

  2. *o* &! I’ve always wanted to read it but the tank’s really pricey so I ended up getting other manga instead. I guess I’ll have to purchase that one now. Trafalgar too!

  3. I’m actually a bit surprised you like Super Lovers this much xP I mean, yeah, it’s BL, but it doesn’t have a heavy plot…. I guess? But there’s something about it that makes me eagerly wait for every chapter :3
    And Yuuutsuna Asa – the first chapte rafter volume 3 is already out. I didn’t buy the mag, and I’m still hesitating whether I should do it or not… I dunno. I don’t want to buy the whole mag just for one series, even if it’s YA. But, on the other hand, the 4th volume is a year away….. T___T This is my biggest trouble of year 2011 xD

    I’m also dying to read Hidaka’s newst series “Hatsukoi no Atosaki”, but I dunno when it’s gonna be released in a tank (or has it been already?)
    Merry Checker – yes!!! Yes!!! YES!!! Gosh, this title, almost all my fantasies are in this tank xD

    I’m not surprised Nishi Keiko’s in your top xD I really really want to buy her stories, but you write about her quite a lot, and due to my imagination I always feel as if I’ve already read them and put them off for later and then regret it.
    I FINALLY ordered docchi mo Docchi, so I hope I’ll be able to read it this time xD

    As for Trafalgar and Erotica… I confess I haven’t even touched these series, but what’s so appealing about them? At least about Erotica, everyone’s so hyper about it. I guess I just need a good reason to start reading it.

    • Well, it’s not like Super Lovers is plotless. Recent points center around Ren’s origins, Haru having to consider the brother/lover line, and Ren’s general development. I see it more as slice of life with heavy character development. I enjoy Ren the most.. I think he’s really unique. It’s one of the better BL works due to Abe’s greatness in general :3 … but I still prefer Hakkenden!

      The wait for Hidaka’s tanks is TORTURE. It will be a long time before the next Yuuutsuna Asa. At least Hatsukoi no Atosaki will be out 2/28!! YEEES

      And Merry Checker was like my BL fantasy come true.. I can’t get enough of it. Peeeeerfect.

      lol over-exposure to Nishi Keiko? Maybe I shouldn’t follow her as much here XD

      Docchi mo Docchi is hyper fun. I think you’ll like it. I seem to worship her stuff more and more with each tank release. Oyajina 2 is out 2/24. EPIC WEEK

      Eroica’s appeal is in the characters and how they play off each other. The Major and Dorian are the best couple that aren’t actually a couple. You always root for Dorian who is violently pushed away by the Major lol. They are both highly capable and independent people, yet also work great together (much to the Major’s dislike). It took me about 5-6 volumes to really get into it, but I’ve read over 20 at this point and their interactions don’t get old and have carried it into 38+ volumes at this point. The art kinda takes a hit around volume 16 or so though 😦 Still, it’s a great spy/adventure gag manga. Trafalgar is a much shorter, contained story (100 pages). She’s just good at writing rivalries between two guys (who are often beautiful and uniformed~), which is one of my favorite things.

  4. Pingback: Favorite Manga Purchases from 2012 | the manga habit

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