Yokai, the ghosts and monsters of Japanese folklore, appear alot in manga, but how often do they get to be one of the main characters? This list features titles where they yokai is the protagonist of the manga, and not just a monster to be beat up before the hero moves on.
Halloween is a favorite time of the year for kids, not only because they get to dress up in costumes and wear masks and makeup, but also because of their second favorite activity of the year (right behind Christmas), Trick or Treating! So, in anticipation of that big day at the end of the month, here are some manga that might try to trick or treat you.
It’s been a while since I updated my post on manga for Halloween. The titles I choose to put on this list don’t just have death, vampires, horror, or supernatural elements. I try to choose titles that have a creepy atmosphere to them as well. Something that can send a chill up your spine, and not just gross you out.
Going in order of publishers again, let’s start with Dark Horse, who still has the most titles to fit this genre.
School Zone – This is a 3 volume series that tell stories of ordinary kids who encounter the strange and terrifying in their school. Ghosts, urban legends and superstitions turn out to be horribly real. This series is by Kanako Inuki, who is known as the Queen of Manga Horror. She also created CMX’s Presents. You can read a review of volume 1 here, and all three volumes here.
Viz Media has a couple of new titles and both of them come out this month!
Grand Guignol Orchestra – This is a new 5 volume series by Kaori Yuki, creator of The Cain Saga, Godchild and Fairy Cube. Lucille is the head of the travelling Grand Orchesta. For a price he and the orchestra will go to a town and rid them of the Guiynol infected people called puppets who threaten the town. This is done by Kaori Yuki, so you know it’s going to be good. Read reviews of this new series here and here.
March Story – This title was just announced at Anime Expo this year, and it’s scheduled to come out in the next week or two. It created by Korean artists, but the story is published by Shogakukan’s Sunday Gene-X (thanks @toukochan!). Set in 18th Century Europe, demons know as the Ill hide in works of art, waiting to attract unsuspecting humans and possess them. Only hunters of the Ciste Vihal can dispel them, and March is one such hunter, tracking down Ills and stopping them before they can possess anyone. This sounds like a really cool series and I can’t wait for it to come out. There have been only 2 volumes released so far in Japan, so expect this one to be on a long release schedule.
Tokyopop added one title that I really enjoyed.
Hanako and the Terror of Allegory – What if urban legends were true? The killer under the bed, the slit-mouthed woman, human-faced fish are all well known urban legends, and they can possess you, making you believe they are real. And if they are real, they can kill you. This title is about Daisuke Asou, who is known as an Allegory Detective. He’s the person you to if you are possessed by one of these legends or allegories. The stories are well done, and the urban legends are very creepy. It was a lot of fun to read, but then, I love urban legends. Read other reviews here and here.
Yen Press added a title that has some stories to send chills up your spine.
Time and Again – Serialized in Yen Plus, this manhwa follows exorcist Baek-On and his bodyguard Ho-Yeon as they travel the country in search of grudges and ghosts. A lot of the stories deal with karma and re-incarnation, and have very tragic tales behind the hauntings. The art is very well done, and some scenes will make you have second thoughts about reading at night. I’ve really enjoyed this series so far. There are three volumes out so far, and here are reviews of each. It can also be read online through Yen Plus magazine.
DMP seems to have embraced the horror genre with two titles new this year.
Taimashin: The Read Spider Exorcist – This title is from the creator of Vampire Hunter D, Hideyuki Kikuchi. Akamushi Fujiwara travels between the world of the living and the dead, using his shamanistic spider powers to combat demons from the underworld. As mysterious as he is handsome, if you need Akamushi’s help, you are in dire straits indeed. There are two volumes out so far with all of Kikuchi’s great action and horror, as well as some sexual innuendo. I’ve reviewed both volumes here.
Tale of a White Night – This is a one-shot collection of short stories of supernatural and suspense. The tales are more in the vein to make you cautious and constantly looking over your shoulder than outright scare you. It’s a good light horror for those that like the more psychological scare than physical gore. Reviews can be found here and here.
Udon has dabbled in manhwa and licensed one Korean horror title.
Reading Club – This title is about a girl, Eun-Sae, who agrees to help clean the student-run school library with her crush Kyung-Do. While cleaning they discovers a book with an evil aura, that may be responsible for the death of not just the library’s previous advisor, but also another student and Kyung-Do’s own father years before. This is a strongly plot driven story with supernatural and horror elements. Sadly though, only one volume has come out so far. You can read reviews of this title here, and here.
Seven Seas Entertainment has really made a name with OEL manga, and with all their different genres has one title that takes on the Cthulu mythos.
Arkham Woods – You can’t say horror and not think of H.P. Lovecraft and Cthulu. This one volume title takes you into Lovecraft’s world with Kirsti Rivers, an LA girl transplanted to the sleepy New England town of Arkham Woods. While cleaning out the old house her mother’s uncle left to them, Kirsti and her friends uwittingly unleash an ancient horror that could destroy the world, if they don’t stop it first. You can read this title online as well as in print, and check this review to see how it stands up to a Lovecraft fan.
Did I miss any titles that should be added to these lists? Leave a comment and let me know so I can start to work for next year!
Memorial Day is a national holiday in the US, the day when we remember all the people who gave their lives in the service of the country. If you look hard enough, you can find this theme in manga as well. Even though Memorial Day is celebrated with parades and ceremonies at cemetaries honoring the fallen, it can also be celebrated through the actions of the living, who carry on the memories of the dead.
In Eagle: The Making of an Asian American President, the protagonist, Yamaoka was a soldier in Vietnam, and decides to become the President of the United States when he returns. In volume 4 of the series, he attends a Remembrance Service at the Vietnam Vet wall, where he denounces war. This upsets a lot of people, but really, what better way is there to honor those who died in war, than to try to keep any more sons and daughters from dying in it?
Pluto: Tezuka x Urasawa is a retelling of the Astro Boy storyline “Greatest Robot in the World”. When Tezuka first wrote the story, he was writing of the Vietnam war as well. In Urasawa’s version, argument can be made that he is discussing the Iraq War, a much more recent, but no less violent conflict. In Pluto, the 39th Central Asia War was fought by robots, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy to be remembered. As the story opens, people are mourning the death of Mont Blanc, a soldier from that war who turned to helping people afterwards. Pluto‘s theme is also one of anti-war, where the memories of the conflict and those who were killed greatly affect the survivors.
Fullmetal Alchemist is another title that denounces war. Many of the characters in this title were soldiers in a terrible war against the Ishbalans. In volume 15, we hear the whole story. Roy Mustang was so profoundly affected by the war, that like Yamaoka in Eagle, he decides he must become the leader of Ametris so something like that can never happen again. Though, unlike Yamaoka, there is no democratic way to the top, and Mustang must still be soldier to make his way up. But the memories of what happened, and the vow he made have never been forgotten by him or his subordinates and friends who help him.
This Memorial Day, take some time to think about the men and women who have died to keep this country free, but also think about things we can do so no one else has to mourn a father, mother, sister, brother, son or daughter in such conflicts ever again.
May, among other things, is National Pet Month. It’s goal is to promote the benefits of pet ownership and support pet adoption. I know these benefits very well, and support them, as every dog and cat in our house was either from a shelter or a stray we took in. Manga is no stranger to pets either. Here are just a few titles that feature either the benefits of pet ownership, or shows strays finding a home, with humans or otherwise.
In manga, there are two ways to typically find a pet. The first is the obvious one; a pet shop. Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs is a Teen+ title from Viz Media. It’s about a girl, Suguri Miyauchi, who has an amazing affinity for dogs and gets a part-time job at the pet store “Woofles”. The stories often feature different dog breeds available at the pet store, and matching the right people to the right dog. Petshop of Horrors, another Teen+ title from Tokyopop also matches people to the most appropriate pet, but in a “comeuppance theater” sort of way. Count D has the perfect pet for every customer, and sees that everyone gets the pet they deserve, which doesn’t always end well for the for the people.
But can you really blame the animals for wanting some payback? More often than not, pets such as dogs and cats are shown being dumped in deserted areas or left in boxes with signs saying “Please take me home.” Many pets in manga start out as strays and find a home this way. In Kimi ni Todoke a Teen title from Viz Media, Kazehaya and Sawako find a puppy in the rain. Kazehaya takes the dog in, and he and Sawako share in its care. Rin, from the Teen title Dragon Voice from Tokyopop, gets adopted by a stray cat that he feeds once and then keeps coming back for more. My mother has acquired more than a few cats this way. In One Fine Day, the All Ages title from Yen Press, the cat Guru is lonely until he is befriended by Nanai the dog and Rang the mouse, and finds a home with them and No-ah.
Not all animals want to be adopted by humans though. Free Collars Kingdom, a Teen+ title from Del Rey Manga, portrays the world of stray cats, showing how they have to find food, shelter, and fight and defend their territory. While this title is more light-hearted in the way it shows this world, making all the cats otaku of some sort, there is a more serious theme at its core. Many of the Free Collar cats don’t want to ge back to being a pet to a human. They were abandoned by their humans, even the protagonist Cyan, though he is the only one that holds onto his faith in humans. The rest are jaded and disillusioned, a feeling you can’t help getting sometimes when looking at some of the animals at the shelter.
If you’re willing to take the time and care, the benefits of pet ownership can be very rewarding. Don’t think it’s going to be a walk in the park though. The All Ages OEL title Peach Fuzz from Tokyopop that shows some of the trials and triumphs of owning a pet. Amanda and Peach the ferret both have to learn to how to get along with each other, but once they do, they are like the best of friends. The same goes for Ryusei and Mr. Ken, the human-cat pair of Viz Media‘s Teen+ title Backstage Prince. Ryusei doesn’t like people, so it’s up to Mr. Ken to find him a friend. Akari, a girl from his school, becomes first a friend and then becomes his girlfriend. Cats can be really smart when they want.
For an as-close-to-real-as-it-gets look at pet ownership in manga, look no further than What’s Michael?, an All Ages title from Dark Horse Comics. Michael, the title character, is a large, orange-striped cat, who is portrayed as doing all the cats are want to do; eating, sleeping, playing, and generally causing trouble for his owners. What’s Michael? is truly a comedy, for most of the things Michael is seen doing are the EXACT SAME THINGS cat owners see everyday. It’s funny because it’s true. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find volumes of this series. Here’s hoping Dark Horse releases an omnibus very soon.
While cats are cute, kittens are cuter, and that exactly what you get in Chi’s Sweet Home, Vertical, Inc.’s first All Ages title, which will be released in June. It’s about a kitten that gets separated from her mother and siblings, and is adopted by a young family. Chi is really cute, but not in a saccharine sense, and the family has a lot to learn about taking care of a kitten, and most importantly, how much a part of the family a pet can become. Just like its title, it’s sweet and funny and heartwarming.
Like all good things, owning a pet isn’t always easy, but it’s always satisfying. If you are considering getting a pet, please consider adopting one from a local shelter rather than a pet store or breeder. Some of the best cats I have ever had never came with papers, and finding a purebred at a shelter is unfortunately just as likely as a mutt. You can also check out Adopt-a-pet.com for a shelter or rescue near you.
Playing pranks is nothing new, and April Fool’s Day, which started out as a European tradition has spread all over the world, with nearly every country practicing some form of it. While there are no manga based on this particular holiday, there are a few where playing tricks to fool the characters or the reader are at the heart of the story.
St. Patrick’s Day is a decidedly American holiday that really isn’t celebrated or even mentioned outside of the US. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good manga you can enjoy with your green beer and corn beef and cabbage. Now, admittedly, some of these titles are a stretch, but in the spirit of good fun, here are some titles you might find in a pot of manga gold.
Women creators in manga isn’t as an unusual thing as they are here in the US. Over here, publishers have special events to show that women can create comics, while in Japan no one even bats an eye at the idea. With March being Women’s History month, I thought I would highlight some of the women manga creators who have been influential in the medium in Japan and the US.
This week begins the Chinese New Year. This traditional Chinese holiday is based on a lunar calendar and is associated with an animal in the Chinese Zodiac. This year’s animal is the Tiger. So, I went looking for manga with tigers in them. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a lot. I extended it to any of the big cats, and that make the list grow some, but it’s really surprising how few manga have tigers in them.
After the NYT posted a graphic novel gift list now with manga on it, David Welsh sent out a call to action on Twitter, for manga gift guides. This is my response to that call. I’ve decided to put together a manga gift guide for 10 different possible types of people in your life. I really could have kept going with this list. There are so many good titles to recommend, but I’ll leave those to my fellow bloggers who also answered the call.
I’m a very crafty person. Starting when I was young, my mother taught me to embroider in order to keep me busy when I had to go with her to help by Great, Great Aunt who was blind and lived in a retirement home. From there, I moved to knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, sewing and finally cross stitch. I also love to cross my interests, so when Katherine Farmar asked on Twitter if anyone knew of a manga about knitting, it got me thinking. Were there any crafty manga out there?
Last year, I talked about a bunch of the manga that was out that I thought was most appropriate to read on a dark and spooky nights of Halloween. This year, I want to narrow my focus some, and look at some manga that isn’t particularly spooky, but features some traditional monsters, both eastern and western.