The best comics of 2022: a meta listPosted: December 20, 2022 Filed under: review | Tags: 2022, best-of lists, comics, ranking, year-end review 1 Comment
It’s that time of the year again: the Internet has picked the best comics of the year. More precisely, I have compiled several year-end best-of-2022 lists into one, awarding points to each title depending on its rank and the total number of entries on the list (full explanation here).
Shortly before Christmas, about two thirds of the usual sources have posted their lists. I’m going to update this blogpost with the data from the remaining lists in January, so make sure to come back here, as there are likely to be some major changes still.
Anyway, for the time being, these are…
THE TOP 25 COMICS OF 2022:
- Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton (269 points)
- The Night Eaters: She Eats the Night by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (159)
- Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen and Lucas Werneck (131)
- Fantastic Four: Full Circle by Alex Ross (127)
- The Flash by Jeremy Adams and others (110)
- Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith (99)
- A.X.E.: Judgment Day by Kieron Gillen and Valerio Schiti (90)
- Squire by Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh (89)
- The Nice House on the Lake by James Tynion IV and Álvaro Martínez Bueno (88)
- Batman/Superman: World’s Finest by Mark Waid and Dan Mora (87)
- Who Will Make the Pancakes by Megan Kelso (85)
- Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (83)
- The Many Deaths of Laila Starr by Ram V and Filipe Andrade (79)
- Akane banashi by Yuki Suenaga and Takamasa Moue, tied with
One Piece by Eiichirō Oda (73)
- Action Comics by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and others (72)
- Acting Class by Nick Drnaso (70)
- Clementine by Tillie Walden (68)
- Genkai chitai (a.k.a. The Liminal Zone) by Junji Itō (67)
- Shuna no tabi (a.k.a. Shuna’s Journey) by Hayao Miyazaki (66)
- The Human Target by Tom King and Greg Smallwood (64)
- Once & Future by Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora (62)
- Talk to my Back by Murasaki Yamada, tied with
The Keeper by Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes, and Marco Finnegan (61)
- Little Monarchs by Jonathan Case (59)
[UPDATE: 16 more lists added on January 15]
This time there are quite a few high-ranking manga on the list (possibly due to the inclusion of several new manga-specific lists). Who would have thought One Piece would make a return, and on rank 14 at that? Honourable mentions go to Sayonara Eri (a.k.a. Goodbye, Eri) and Look Back by Tatsuki Fujimoto, Jujutsu Kaisen by Gege Akutami, Yomi no tsugai (a.k.a. Daemons of the Shadow Realm) by Hiromu Arakawa, and Spy × Family by Tatsuya Endō, all having just missed the top 25 with 50+ points each.
It seems to have been not quite such a good year for (non-English) European comics. Geneviève Castrée: Complete Works 1981-2016, Malgré tout (a.k.a. Always Never) by Jordi Lafebre, and Dagen van Zand / Jours de Sable (a.k.a. Days of Sand) by Aimée de Jongh, the highest ranking ones, would not even make the top 50.
As for German comics, there were a few noteworthy ones in 2022, such as Das Gutachten by Jennifer Daniel, Stockhausen by Thomas von Steinaecker and David von Bassewitz, Rude Girl by Birgit Weyhe, and Das Humboldt-Tier by Flix. But the only way for them to reach the top 25 is to get picked by at least three of the four German lists, which didn’t happen.
The following lists were evaluated: Barnes & Noble, The Beat, Book Riot, Broken Frontier, CBC, CBR, Chicago Public Library, ComFor (German), ComicGate (German), Comickunst (German), DoomRocket, Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, Gamesradar, Goodreads, Gosh (adult, kids), The Guardian, IGN, Kono manga ga sugoi via Anime News Network, Kotaku, Looper, The Mary Sue, NPR, Paste, Polygon, Publishers Weekly (Holiday Gift Guide, Critics Poll), Screen Rant (“Best Comics”, combined “Best New Manga” and “Best Continuing Manga”), Tagesspiegel (German), Top-Selling Manga in Japan by Series via Anime News Network, The Washington Post, YALSA.
The best comics of 2021: a meta listPosted: December 18, 2021 Filed under: review | Tags: 2021, best-of lists, comics, ranking, year-end review 1 Comment
Still looking for a last-minute Christmas present? How about a comic? Here’s what the Internet recommends. As always, whenever a title made a best-comics-of-2021 list, it received between 1 and 30 points depending on its rank or on the number of titles on such a list (full explanation here). Added up, this results in…
THE TOP 25 COMICS OF 2021:
- Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith (189 points)
- The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel (169)
- Far Sector by N. K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell (160)
- Wake by Rebecca Hall (135)
- Minharot (a.k.a. Tunnels) by Rutu Modan (128)
- The Many Deaths of Laila Starr by Ram V and Filipe Andrade (124)
- Run by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury and Nate Powell (122)
- The Good Asian by Pornsak Pichetshote, Alexandre Tefenkgi and Lee Loughridge (116)
- The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag (99)
- Stone Fruit by Lee Lai (98)
- Chroniques de jeunesse (a.k.a. Factory Summers) by Guy Delisle (92)
- Gidarim (a.k.a. The Waiting) by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim (81)
- Nightwing by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo (80)
- Nubia by L. L. McKinney and Robyn Smith (77)
- In by Will McPhail (76)
- La bête (a.k.a. Marsupilami: The Beast) by Zidrou and Frank Pé (74)
- Crisis Zone by Simon Hanselmann (72)
- The Department of Truth by James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds (70)
- Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal, tied with
Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe (67)
- Himawari House by Harmony Becker (63)
- Cheer Up by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise (61)
- Discipline by Dash Shaw (59)
- I Never Promised You A Rose Garden by Mannie Murphy (57)
- Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto, tied with
Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle (54)
Just outside of the top 25 we have the highest ranked (non-British) European comic, Les cahiers d’Esther (a.k.a. Esther’s Notebooks) by Riad Sattouf. However, some lists that I like to include each year (e.g. all the German lists) have not been published yet, so expect some changes to the ranking above.
UPDATE: and indeed, now that the ‘German votes’ are counted, a classic BD character has entered the list on #16. Further down the list we find the highest-ranking German comic, Lucky Luke: Zarter Schmelz by Ralf König, on #39. Apart from Chainsaw Man, two other notable manga last year were Dai Dark by Q Hayashida (#30) and, once again, Kimetsu no yaiba a.k.a. Demon Slayer by Koyoharu Gotōge (#36).
The following lists were evaluated: The Beat, Book Riot, Broken Frontier, CBC, Chicago Public Library, ComFor (German – part 1, part 2), Comicgate (German), Comickunst (German), DoomRocket, Forbes, GamesRadar+, Goodreads, Gosh (adult, kids), The Guardian (combined Rachel Cooke’s and James Smart’s articles), GWW, The Herald, IGN, The Irish Times, Kono manga ga sugoi via Anime News Network, Looper, Lotusland Comics, The Mary Sue, Nerdist, The New York Times, NPR, Oricon Top-Selling Manga in Japan by Series via Anime News Network, Polygon, Publishers Weekly, Screen Rant, Tagesspiegel (German), Variety, The Washington Post, YALSA.
The best comics of 2020: a meta listPosted: December 21, 2020 Filed under: review | Tags: 2020, best-of lists, comics, ranking, year-end review 1 Comment
[UPDATE: added 10 more lists – A.V. Club, Broken Frontier, ComFor, Comic.de, Comicgate, DoomRocket, Herald, IGN, SyFy Wire, WhatCulture. Arrows next to entries indicate that their rank went up or down compared to the previous version.]
Some people seem reluctant this year to look back at the past twelve months. From a comics perspective, however, it seems to have been a strong year, with no shortage of titles to fill all the ranks of those year-end best-of lists. As always, I put together a ‘master list’ out of all of those charts I found online (in English or German). Each title was assigned between 1 and 30 points, depending on either its rank or, in unranked lists, the number of titles (full explanation here).
THE TOP 25 COMICS OF 2020:
- Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang (149 points)
- Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang (129) ⇧
- The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine (125)
- Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen by Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber (124) ⇧
- Blue in Green by Ram V et al. (115) ⇧
- Paying the Land by Joe Sacco (104) ⇩
- Far Sector by N. K. Jemisin (103) ⇧
- Dracula, Motherf**ker by Alex de Campi and Erica Henderson (95) ⇩
- Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf (92) ⇩
- Pulp by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (87) ⇧
- A Map to the Sun by Sloane Leong (86) ⇧
- The Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett (82) ⇩
- John Constantine: Hellblazer by Simon Spurrier, Aaron Campbell and Matias Bergara (78)
- Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto (68) ⇧
- Wendy, Master of Art by Walter Scott (65) ⇩
- You Brought Me The Ocean by Alex Sánchez and Julie Maroh (59) ⇧
- The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen ⇩, tied with
The Times I Knew I Was Gay by Eleanor Crewes ⇩ (57)
- Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto (56) ⇩
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba by Koyoharu Gotōge (55) ⇩
- Bowie by Michael Allred, Seve Horton and Laura Allred (51) ⇧
- We Only Find Them When They’re Dead by Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo (50) ⇧
- The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott by Zoe Thorogood (49) ⇧
- Big Black: Stand at Attica by Frank “Big Black” Smith, Jared Reinmuth and Ameziane ⇩, tied with
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman ⇩ and
Spy × Family by Tatsuya Endō ⇩ (48)
What a year for Gene Luen Yang, whose comics take the top two spots! As always, manga are sadly underrepresented, but at least we have three manga in the top 25 with Chainsaw Man, Spy × Family, and of course the ubiquitous Demon Slayer. The latter is also one of four recurring comics along with Jimmy Olsen, The Immortal Hulk, and Daredevil, all of which already charted in 2019. The highest-ranking German comic, not shown above, would be Freaks by Frank Schmolke on rank 30.
The following lists were evaluated: The A.V. Club, The Beat (top 10 only), Book Riot, Broken Frontier, CBC, Chicago Public Library, ComFor (German), Comic.de (German; multiple mentions only), Comicgate (German), Comickunst (German), DoomRocket, Forbes, GeekCast (top 30 only), Goodreads, Gosh (adults, kids), The Guardian, The Herald, IGN (ongoing / limited), io9, Kono manga ga sugoi via Anime News Network, NPR, Nerdist, Oricon Top-Selling Manga in Japan by Series via Anime News Network, Publishers Weekly Critics Poll, SyFy Wire, Tagesspiegel (German), Tor Online (German), The Washington Post, WhatCulture, YALSA.
The best comics of 2019: a meta listPosted: December 28, 2019 Filed under: review | Tags: 2019, best-of lists, comics, ranking, year-end review 3 Comments
[UPDATE: added 8 more lists – AiPT, Broken Frontier, ComFor (German), Comic.de (German, multiple mentions only), Comicgate (German, unranked), Diamond via The Beat (comics + GNs), Tor Online (German). Arrows next to entries indicate that their rank went up or down compared to the previous version.]
Once more I compiled a little ‘master list’ out of some best-of-2019 lists on the Internet. Each title was assigned between 1 and 30 points, depending on either its rank, or on the number of titles in an unranked list (full explanation here).
THE TOP 25 COMICS OF 2019:
- House of X / Powers of X by Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva (207 points)
- Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (171) ⇩
- Die by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans (120) ⇧
- Rusty Brown by Chris Ware (110)
- The Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett (106) ⇧
- They Called Us Enemy by George Takei et al. (102) ⇩
- Clyde Fans by Seth ⇩, tied with
Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto ⇧ (95)
- Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen by Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber (92) ⇩
- The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis (88) ⇩
- Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads (87) ⇧
- Spider-Man: Life Story by Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley ⇧, tied with
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard ⇧ (82)
- These Savage Shores by Ram V and Sumit Kumar (79) ⇧
- Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh (75) ⇩
- When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll (74) ⇧
- Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama (70) ⇩
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Renée Nault (66) ⇧
- Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers (61) ⇩
- DCeased by Tom Taylor and Trevor Hairsine (60) ⇧
- Bitter Root by David Walker, Chuck Brown and Sanford Greene (59) ⇩
- Good Talk by Mira Jacob ⇩, tied with
George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. The Complete Color Sundays 1935–1944 ⇧ (57)
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba by Koyoharu Gotōge ⇩, tied with
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso ⇧ (55)
Given the usual dominance of Anglo-American list sources, it is almost a pleasant surprise to see as many as two manga within the top 25. As for European comics… Alice Oseman is British, does that count? [Update: Oseman’s Heartstopper dropped out of the top 25 to 28th place. It’s still the highest-ranking European comic.]
The following lists were evaluated: A.V. Club, Adventures in Poor Taste, Book Riot, Broken Frontier, CBC, Chicago Public Library, ComFor (German), Comic.de (German, multiple mentions only), Comicgate (German, unranked), Comickunst (German), Diamond via The Beat (comics + GNs), Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, GameSpot, Goodreads, Gosh (adult, kids), The Guardian (Rachel Cooke, James Smart), io9, Kono Manga ga Sugoi! via Anime News Network, Oricon Top-Selling Manga in Japan by Series via Anime News Network, Paste, Publishers Weekly Critics Poll, Readings, School Library Journal, Spiegel Online (German), SyFy Wire (Best New Comic Books, Fangrrl), Tagesspiegel (German), Tor Online (German), What Culture, YALSA.
The best manga of 2016? Review of DaisyPosted: September 24, 2019 Filed under: review | Tags: 2016, best-of lists, comics, Daisy, manga, Reiko Momochi, shōjo, year-end review Leave a comment
For Japan, the 2010s were marked by a historic event at the beginning of the decade: the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, and the ensuing nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. It’s somewhat surprising that there haven’t been many more manga on this topic, although I bet a lot of manga critics are going to interpret pretty much any manga published afterwards as somehow inspired by the triple disaster, just as they did with the Hiroshima nuclear bombing. Apart from 1F, the other big ‘3.11’ manga is Daisy, created in 2012 but not published in German until 2016 (and not yet available in English as far as I know).
Daisy (デイジー ~3.11女子高生たちの選択~ / Daisy – 3.11 Joshikōseitachi no Sentaku)
Language: German (translated from Japanese)
Author: Reiko Momochi; based on a novel by Teruhiro Kobayashi, Darai Kusanagi, and Tomoji Nobuta
Publisher: Egmont (originally Kōdansha)
Year: 2016 (originally 2013)
Number of volumes: 1
Price: € 14
Website: https://www.egmont-manga.de/buch/daisy-aus-fukushima/ (German), https://www.mangaupdates.com/series.html?id=87087 (Baka-Updates)
On the one hand, Daisy – full title in German: Daisy aus Fukushima (“Daisy from Fukushima”) – is a typical shōjo manga about a group of friends in their last year of high school: Ayaka, Moe, Mayu, and narrator Fumi play in a band, fall in love with boys, worry about which career to pursue after graduation, quarrel and reconcile again. On the other hand, they live in Fukushima-shi (Fukushima City), and after that fateful 11th March their lives are affected in many ways.
Even though Fukushima-shi is well outside of the evacuation zone, radioactivity has become a constant threat. It keeps guests from staying at Ayaka’s parents’ hotel, it deters customers from buying rice from Mayu’s father’s farm, and it makes Moe abandon her home town. Before the disaster, Fumi’s plan had been to go away to Tokyo to university, but now she wonders if leaving Fukushima at this time would make her a traitor.
It’s quite a feat of this manga to make this peculiar feeling palpable; these effects of the disaster that are much more subtle than radiation poisoning; this creeping fear of an invisible danger that is so unlike the blind panic of people running from a tidal wave. Daisy is similar to 1F in this regard: they both don’t show how the tsunami hits the coast or how reactors explode, and both focus on characters from outside of the evacuation zone – the main difference, of course, being that the ones in Daisy are fictional.
Reiko Momochi, who is perhaps best known for her similarly serious shōjo manga series Confidential Confessions (Mondai teiki sakuhinshū), provides solid artwork in which particularly character close-ups excel with discreet shading lines and screen tones.
When talking about the manga of the 2010s, Daisy is definitely one to rank among the most representative of this decade.
Rating: ● ● ● ● ○
The best manga of 2016? Review of Wolf Girl & Black PrincePosted: May 27, 2019 Filed under: review | Tags: 2016, Ayuko Hatta, best-of lists, comics, manga, romance, shōjo, year-end review, Ōkami shōjo to kuro ōji 2 Comments
Now that the Reiwa era has begun, some people are compiling lists of the best manga from the Heisei era, even though 1989–2019 seems like a ridiculously long time to do so, and comparisons to the previous Shōwa era (1926–1989) are difficult due to their different lengths. However, towards the end of this year, lots of people are going to wonder what the best manga of the 2010s were, and then it will come in handy that we’ve taken an in-depth look at manga from the middle of this decade (technically speaking its 7th year) in this series of blogposts.
Wolf Girl & Black Prince (オオカミ少女と黒王子 / Ōkami shōjo to kuro ōji) vol. 11
Language: German (translated from Japanese)
Author: Ayuko Hatta
Publisher: Kazé (originally Shūeisha)
Year: 2016 (originally 2011)
Number of volumes: 16
Price: € 7
Website: https://www.kaze-online.de/Programm/Manga/Wolf-Girl-Black-Prince-Band-11.html (German), https://www.mangaupdates.com/series.html?id=66333 (Baka-Updates)
Even people who usually don’t read romance/shōjo stories seem to like this manga (and/or its anime adaptation). For some reason, though, apparently it has never been published in English. In 2016, the final two volumes came out in Japan, but in Germany, that year saw the publication of vols. 6-11, which is why I’ll deal with vol. 11 here.
Previously in Wolf Girl & Black Prince: in order to remain popular among her friends, 17-year old Erika pretends that her attractive classmate Kyōya is her boyfriend. She secretly begs him to play along so that her friends don’t find out that they’re not actually dating. He agrees to act as if they were a couple, but in private he is mean to her. In the end, however, they fall in love with each other and begin an actual relationship.
And that is the plot of about the first three volumes. The series could have ended there, but like with so many other long-running manga, the cash cow wasn’t dry yet. In the case of Wolf Girl & Black Prince, 13 more volumes followed which tell us of the romantic life of Erika and Kyōya, and of course their large cast of friends. In this eleventh volume, for instance, the first chapter is about Erika falling ill and Kyōya reluctantly caring for her, while the second and third chapters deal with romantic rivals (a co-worker at Erika’s job and a classmate who gets closer to Kyōya).
That isn’t to say that these ‘middle volumes’ are entirely without appeal. There are still moments in which Erika and Kyōya come across as compelling characters – she continues to be slightly selfish but also masochistic, he remains cool and distant. What really sets Wolf Girl & Black Prince apart from many other shōjo manga is its relatively mature content. For instance, the characters talk almost openly about sex (and also sometimes explicitly use that word), though sexual acts are never depicted.
One could probably say a lot about this manga from a gender perspective. The way in which Kyōya (“I’m going to steal your virginity!”) treats Erika, and the way in which Erika lets herself be treated by him, makes it clear that we’re not exactly reading a feminist manifesto here.
Another thing worth mentioning is that most volumes (at least in this Kazé edition) contain bonus stories. These can be spin-off stories from the main one, or unrelated one-shots. In the case of vol. 11, it’s a 38-page one-shot high school love story. On the flipside, though, this means that you only get 130 pages of the main story.
The artwork is of an extremely high quality and, in accordance with the humorous tone of this manga, is full of charming cartoonish characters. Too bad the story has lost its drive long ago and seems to go nowhere. Otherwise Wolf Girl & Black Prince would have indeed been one of the best manga of 2016.
Rating: ● ● ● ○ ○
The best comics of 2018: a meta listPosted: December 23, 2018 Filed under: review | Tags: 2018, best-of lists, comics, ranking, year-end review 4 Comments
[UPDATE 2: added 9 more lists – ComFor (German), Comic Report (German, multiple mentions only), Comic.de (German), Comicgate (German), Diamond (comic books via Major Spoilers, TPBs via The Beat), Smash Pages, Women Write About Comics (Big Press, Small Press).]
[UPDATE: added 14 more lists – 101 Comics (DC, Marvel), Bookriot, Comickunst (German), Gamespot, Hyperallergic, The Hollywood Reporter, Spiegel (German), Readings, The Comeback, Toledo Lucas County Public Library, Tor Online (German), WhatCulture, YALSA; arrows next to entries indicate that their rank went up or down compared to the previous version.]
Just in time for some last-minute Christmas shopping: here’s a ‘master list’ of comics that appeared on best-of-2018 lists on the Web. Each comic is assigned a score from 1 to 30 for each list it appears on, depending on its position or the total number of entries in that list, and the sum of these points results in the rank below (full explanation here). Some lists are still missing, so I’m going to update this post as more lists are published.
THE TOP 25 COMICS OF 2018:
- The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (246 points) ⇧
- Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads (223) ⇩
- Sabrina by Nick Drnaso (218)
- Berlin by Jason Lutes (202)
- Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (155) ⇧
- The Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett ⇩, tied with
Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels (142)
- Young Frances by Hartley Lin (133) ⇩
- Action Comics by Brian Michael Bendis (130) ⇧
- Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal (123) ⇩
- On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (117) ⇧
- Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol (115) ⇩
- The Lie And How We Told It by Tommi Parrish (114) ⇩
- X-Men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor (112) ⇩
- All the Answers by Michael Kupperman (111) ⇩
- Batman by Tom King ⇧, tied with
Runaways by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka ⇩ (107)
- Der Umfall by Mikael Ross (106) ⇧
- My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris (105) ⇩
- Justice League by Scott Snyder (99) ⇧
- Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan (97) ⇩
- Why Art? by Eleanor Davis (96) ⇩
- Girl Town by Carolyn Nowak ⇩, tied with
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man by Chip Zdarsky ⇩ (94)
- Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (92) ⇧
[Comment written after the second update:] This time, the list paints a dismal picture of the state of comics. Not that the comics that made the top 25 are bad, but with only one European comic (Der Umfall) and not a single manga, the Atlantic and Pacific divides are clearer than ever. Simply put, Americans seem to read American (including Canadian) comics only. Which is a pity, as they are missing out on e.g. three (3!) new Spirou albums (though technically, Il s’appelait Ptirou already came out in late 2017 in France). The next European comics from further down the list would be Spirou in Berlin by Flix (rank 29), Imbattable by Pascal Jousselin (rank 30 – another French comic originally published in 2017), and La terra dei figli by Gipi (rank 33 – already published in 2016 in Italy). The only manga in the top 50 are My Solo Exchange Diary (the sequel to My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness, which ranked 2nd in the previous year) by Nagata Kabi (rank 35), My Hero Academia by Kōhei Horikoshi (rank 38), and One Piece by Eiichirō Oda (rank 47).
The following lists were evaluated: 101 Comics (DC, Marvel), Adventures in Poor Taste – series, Amazon, A.V. Club, Barnes & Noble (‘Manga’, ‘Comics’), The Beat – Manga (‘Comics’ list not considered due to extent), Bookriot, CBC, Chicago Public Library, The Comeback, ComFor (German), Comic Report (German, multiple mentions only), Comic.de (German), Comicgate (German), Comickunst (German), Da Vinci (German translation at Sumikai), Diamond (comic books via Major Spoilers, TPBs via The Beat), Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, Gamespot, Goodreads, Gosh (adult, kids), Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, Hyperallergic, io9, Kono manga ga sugoi (English translation – male, female), Major Spoilers Podcast, Newsweek, Oricon (German translation at Sumikai; ‘Franchise’ list only), Paste, Publishers Weekly (Critics Poll), Readings, School Library Journal, Spiegel (German), Smash Pages, Syfy Wire, Tagesspiegel (German), Toledo Lucas County Public Library, Tor.com, Tor Online (German), The Verge, Vulture (Best Superhero Stories; comics only), Washington Post, WhatCulture, Women Write About Comics (Big Press, Small Press), YALSA, Your Chicken Enemy.
The best manga of 2016? Review of My Love Story and 1FPosted: September 7, 2018 Filed under: review | Tags: 2016, Aruko, best-of lists, comics, Ichi efu, Kazune Kawahara, Kazuto Tatsuta, manga, Ore monogatari, romance, science, year-end review 4 Comments
The publication history of My Love Story (and to some extent also that of 1F, see below) demonstrates the difficulties of determining the best manga of the year through the aggregation of year-end best-of lists: in 2016, the first volumes of My Love Story came out in Germany, while in the US volumes 7-10 were published, and in Japan the series ended with the final three volumes, 11-13. Thus, even though My Love Story was being published in all three countries in 2016, in that year it attracted some media attention in Germany only, while in the US and Japan the hype had already died down. More and more it becomes clear in this series of blogposts that when we’re looking at the year 2016 in manga history (from a Western perspective), we’re actually dealing with more of a 5-7 year window. For today, let’s start at the beginning with the first volume of My Love Story.
My Love Story!! (俺物語!! / Ore monogatari) vol. 1
Language: German (translated from Japanese)
Authors: Kazune Kawahara (story), Aruko (art)
Publisher: Panini (originally Shūeisha)
Year: 2016 (originally 2011)
Number of volumes: 13
Price: € 7
Website: https://www.paninishop.de/serie/my-love-story-ore-monogatari (German)
The story revolves around Takeo, a high school student who is not only unusually tall and strong, but also honest, kind, brave, and naive. When he meets Yamato, he thinks at first that she’s only interested in his good-looking friend, Sunakawa. But it turns out Yamato has fallen in love with Takeo, she becomes his first girlfriend, and so His Love Story begins.
A lot of people file this manga under shōjo, but if it is a shōjo manga, it’s an exceptional one due to its protagonist – as the title suggests, a male character is at the center of this story. I’d be hard pressed to name another shōjo manga in which a male protagonist dominates the story as much as Takeo (except perhaps for those that veer towards the boys’ love genre).
And what a character Takeo is. It’s refreshing to have a truly unique protagonist who defies all manga stereotypes. Just seeing Takeo’s face is a delight, as artist Aruko endlessly varies her style with new combinations of different kinds of outlines, hatching, and screentones when drawing him.
In the writer’s preface, an interesting anecdote is related regarding Takeo’s appearance: her magazine editor thought Takeo was ugly and put a slogan on the magazine cover to that effect, but the authors intended Takeo to look ‘manly’ and by all means attractive (though not quite as pretty as his ikemen friend Sunakawa). A misunderstanding that is almost medium specific – if the story was told not in comic form but as a live-action film, for instance, it would be easier for most people to assess the attractiveness of this character (and indeed, apparently there was a live-action adaptation of My Love Story in 2015).
If My Love Story has one flaw, it’s some instances of lazy storytelling when something unlikely happens to advance the story. In vol. 1 it’s a girder inexplicably falling on Yamato (will Takeo come to the rescue? Read it to find out!); in a later volume, a bird rips Yamato’s brooch off her shirt… There’s actually one more annoying flaw in the manga: the authors’ columns already give away that Yamato and Sunakawa are kind-hearted characters too, thus destroying any air of mystery that might have surrounded them. That being said, My Love Story is a remarkable comic and one of the best manga of 2016 (if you will).
Rating: ● ● ● ● ○
1F (いちえふ / Ichi efu) vol. 1
Language: German (translated from Japanese)
Author: Kazuto Tatsuta
Publisher: Carlsen (originally Kōdansha)
Year: 2016 (originally 2013)
Number of volumes: 3
Price: € 13
Website: https://www.carlsen.de/softcover/reaktor-1f-ein-bericht-aus-fukushima-1/74017 (German)
1F (full German title: “Reaktor 1F – Ein Bericht aus Fukushima”; English spelling: Ichi-F) got a lot of press, but not in the context of 2016 year-end reviews – in the US, it was published only last year. As can be expected from a manga about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, people deemed it “moving” and “important”, but not explicitly good. Is 1F any good? Could it even be the best manga of 2016?
First of all, it’s worth restating what other reviewers already have noted: this isn’t a manga about the nuclear disaster per se. Don’t expect to see any giant waves or reactor explosions (though there are one or two flashback panels that show an explosion): this is the autobiographical story of Tatsuta coming to the Fukushima Daiichi power plant long after ‘3.11’ to work there as a ‘cleanup’ worker, i.e. to help in the tedious process of decommissioning the radioactively contaminated power plant.
There are two interesting aspects to Tatsuta’s story: one is the business side of the cleanup work, the shady companies at the bottom end of a subcontracting chain who exploit the mostly unskilled labourers coming from different parts of Japan (Tatsuta himself is from Tokyo, not from the Tōhoku area) for different reasons. The other, more fascinating aspect is the actual work in the highly radioactive power plant, even though Tatsuta’s job there consists of only janitorial tasks at first. The depictions of layers of protective gear, radiation measurement devices, meticulous security procedures all help to visualise the invisible, yet potentially lethal, threat of radioactivity.
Tatsuta’s art style lends itself well to this task of visualisation, as he relies mostly on clear outlines with little or no shading, and occasionally interrupts the comic narrative with diagrams such as floor plans. The flip side of the coin is that human figures aren’t as convincingly drawn; all the characters have a somewhat mischievous expression on their face.
Another flaw of 1F is that the story jumps back and forth in time, which is perhaps due to the haphazard creation history of this manga. It looks like the chronological order of events in the first volume would be: chapter 3, chapter 6, chapters 4-5, prologue, chapters 1-2. Still, overall 1F is a rare gem of an exciting non-fictional manga about science and technology.
Rating: ● ● ● ● ○
The best manga of 2016? Review of Yotsuba&! and Kimi ni todokePosted: February 18, 2018 Filed under: review | Tags: 2016, best-of lists, comics, Karuho Shiina, Kimi ni todoke, Kiyohiko Azuma, manga, shōjo, year-end review, Yotsuba&! 2 Comments
2016? Yes, that’s right, we’re still not finished with that year. This time we’re going to look at some ‘problematic’ middle volumes of long-running manga series: how come first volumes and, on rare occasions, final volumes get all the media attention while all the volumes in between get none? If I remember correctly, Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&! vol. 13 was included on only one best-of-2016 list and consequently didn’t make the master list, while Karuho Shiina’s Kimi ni todoke volumes 23 and 24 were not nominated at all but ranked among the best-selling shōjo manga of 2015 in Japan. Wouldn’t it be possible for a manga series to start out strong and then get even better in the course of the series, as its creator ‘finds his/her groove’?
Of course, this kind of progress is a rare thing. Most manga series are on a more or less steady downward slope, their creators eventually running out of ideas but still milking the proverbial cow until the readers’ loyalty is exhausted and the series cancelled. Another reason for ignoring middle volumes is that reviews of them work differently regarding their purpose as reading recommendations; typically, potential readers want to know whether the first volume is worth reading, and when they read it they make up their own minds about proceeding to the next volume. Still, some middle volumes stand out from the rest, some are good jumping-on points, and some are nothing special but keep up the high quality of a series and are simply better than most other manga volumes of the year, and consequently deserve a spot on a best-of list. So let’s talk more about middle volumes.
Yotsuba&! (よつばと!) vol. 13
Language: German (translated from Japanese)
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Publisher: Tokyopop (originally Kadokawa)
Year: 2016 (originally 2015)
Number of volumes: 13 so far
Price: € 6.50
Website: http://www.tokyopop.de/manga/tokyopop-manga/shojo/yotsuba/1836/yotsuba-band-13 (German)
Previously in Yotsuba&!: Yotsuba is a five year old girl living with her single father.
Some people say each Yotsuba&! chapter is self-contained and they can be read in any order, but then you would lose track of the ever-growing cast (the neighbours’ daughters, their respective friends, and so on) and not get the references to earlier episodes, such as the camping trip in the previous volume.
This 13th volume is remarkable due to several unusual things:
- There’s one episode that isn’t primarily humoristic in tone, as Yotsuba wakes up at night, doesn’t find her father sleeping next to her and wanders around scared in the dark and slightly creepy house.
- Yotsuba’s grandmother is introduced, the only character (besides Yotsuba’s father’s friend Yanda) who isn’t overly friendly to her. It’s Yotsuba’s father’s mother, of course, as Yotsuba’s biological ancestry remains a mystery.
- In the last episode, Yotsuba and her father have a make-believe swordfight, but the imaginary weapons are visualised for the readers to see.
- A seemingly insignificant scene is referenced much later: in the beginning of the volume, a little bird hops towards Yotsuba on the street as if to greet her, and several chapters later, Yotsuba sees it again when she is with her grandmother who teaches her bird names.
- The vignettes at the end of each chapter sometimes add twists to the respective episode, as in the first one of this volume: in the beginning of the chapter, Yotsuba gives a stick from her camping trip to the neighbors’ girl Asagi who doesn’t know what to do with it, but in the closing vignette, she has hung it on the wall as a decorative sort of key holder.
Overall, this is an above-average volume in an above-average series. On this level, the release of every new volume should be given attention.
Rating: ● ● ● ● ○
Kimi ni todoke (君に届け) vol. 24
Language: German (translated from Japanese)
Author: Karuho Shiina
Publisher: Tokyopop (originally Shūeisha)
Year: 2016 (originally 2015)
Number of volumes: 27 so far in Germany, 29 in Japan (ends with vol. 30 in March)
Price: € 6.95
Website: http://www.tokyopop.de/manga/tokyopop-manga/shojo/nah-bei-dir-kimi-ni-todoke/1523/nah-bei-dir-kimi-ni-todoke-band-24 (German)
Previously in Kimi ni todoke: Sawako and her best friends Yano and Yoshida have at last found boyfriends, but as they enter their final year of high school, the threat of separation due to different university and career choices looms over all of them.
The last two volumes focused on Yano and Yoshida, but in vol. 24 we’re more or less back on track as the actual protagonist Sawako is once more at the center of the story. Sawako realises she wants to go away for university, but she is afraid of admitting that to her boyfriend. And that is, basically, what happens in this volume.
When re-reading the entire series up to this volume, I was surprised how fast-paced the first 2-3 volumes seem, and how glacial the pace has become now. As noted before, Karuho Shiina largely avoids the danger of repetition inherent in a ‘talking heads’ type of story by employing ever-changing page layouts. On the other hand, sometimes the character proportions are still slightly off, and I can’t help but feel that a little sloppiness has crept into the art. As strong as the manga series is overall, at this point it has been manoeuvred into somewhat of a trough, and it remains to be seen if it rebounds for the final six volumes.
Rating: ● ● ● ○ ○
The best comics of 2017: a meta listPosted: December 22, 2017 Filed under: review | Tags: 2017, best-of lists, comics, ranking, year-end review 3 Comments
[UPDATE: added 9 more lists – Hollywood Reporter, Comicbook.com, AiPT, ComFor, Comicgate, Comic Report, Unwinnable, 2× WWAC, plus some comments below.]
[UPDATE: added 8 more lists – ANN, The Beat, CBC, Entertainment Weekly, Major Spoilers, PW Graphic Novel Critics Poll, Tanuki Bridge, The Verge; arrows next to entries indicate that their rank went up or down compared to the previous version.]
Another year draws to its close, and that means: best-of lists! Once more I’ve compiled all the comics lists I found online into one ‘master list’. This time I’ve only applied my own ‘weighted’ method that takes into account the rank of a title on each list by assigning points from 1 to 30 (see last year’s list for a more detailed explanation), but I have included the number of lists on which a title is found in brackets for fans of the ‘traditional’ method (and used this number to break ties). Sources are indicated at the bottom of this blogpost. Please note that this post will probably be updated a couple of times as new lists are published.
THE TOP 25 COMICS OF 2017:
- My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris (335 points / 19 lists)
- My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Nagata Kabi (210 / 10)
- The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (197 / 12)
- Boundless by Jillian Tamaki (178 / 10)
- Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads (152 / 8) ⇧
- Spinning by Tillie Walden (151 / 8) ⇩
- Batman by Tom King et al. (119 / 7) ⇧
- S’enfuir. Récit d’un otage by Guy Delisle (117 / 8) ⇩
- Black Hammer by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston (116 / 6) ⇩
- You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis (112 / 6) ⇧
- Shade The Changing Girl by Cecil Castellucci et al. (104 / 8)
- Sex Fantasy by Sophia Foster-Dimino (95 / 4)
- Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (90 / 4) ⇧
- Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun (88 / 5) ⇧
- The Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron et al. (88 / 4) ⇩
- Coquelicots d’Irak by Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim (79 / 4) ⇧
- My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame (75 / 5) ⇧
- Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka et al. (71 / 5) ⇩
- Everything is Flammable by Gabrielle Bell (63 / 4) ⇩, tied with
Siúil, a Rún by Nagabe (63 / 4) ⇩
- Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero by Michael DeForge (63 / 5) ⇧
- Golden Kamuy by Satoru Noda (60 / 3) ⇩
- Black Bolt by Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward (59 / 3) ⇩, tied with
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (59 / 3) ⇧
- Le Rapport de Brodeck by Manu Larcenet (59 / 2) ⇧
Two observations from further down the list:
- It doesn’t seem to have been a particularly great year for (the international recognition of) German comics – the only one in the top 50 is Nick Cave by Reinhard Kleist (45 points / 3 lists) at #37. Part of the problem is that it takes so long for some German comics to be translated into English; if e.g. Ulli Lust’s Flughunde / Voices in the Dark would have come out in the same year in both English and German instead of 4 years later, it would have ranked much higher. The same is true for French and Japanese comics, of course.
- Speaking of Japanese comics: with only 4 of them in the top 25, there’s still a clear divide in comics readership. Manga on lower ranks include Yakusoku no Neverland / The Promised Neverland by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu (50 / 2) at #33, and Fumetsu no anata e / To Your Eternity by Yoshitoki Ōima (49 / 2) at #34.
The following lists were evaluated: Adventures in Poor Taste, Amazon.com, Anime News Network, A.V. Club, Barnes & Noble (“new manga”, “comics”), The Beat (multiple mentions only), CBC, Chicago Public Library, ComFor (German), Comicbook.com, Comicgate (German), Comic Report (German, multiple mentions only), Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, Goodreads, Gosh (adult, kids), Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, io9, Kono manga ga sugoi (English translation – male, female), Major Spoilers Podcast, NPR, Paste (kids), Publishers Weekly (Critics Poll), School Library Journal, Syfy Wire (ongoing), Tagesspiegel (German), Tanuki Bridge, Unwinnable, The Verge, Vulture, Washington Post, Women Write About Comics (big press, small press).