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What Manga Should I Read Next?

So I finished Death Note (which was recommended by some commentators who I trust) a while back, and really liked it. So I’m looking for more options.

And I just KNOW I’m gonna regret this, but I thought I’d try democracy.

Four choices, you can vote. I will be spending my OWN money on this, so if you steer me wrong I’ll never trust any of you again.  Voting ends whenever I make it to the comic shop next, probably Thursday the 15th.
The Choices.

Yotsuba - About a Five Year old girl. Looks kind of Calvin and Hobbesish.

200px-Yotsuba_vol1_cover.jpg

Upside: I like Calvin and Hobbes, and Lynda Barry’s Ernie Pook Stuff is/are some of my favorite comics ever.

Downside: Looks… Awfully Cute. My cute tolerance is high, but not infinite.

One Piece - Has PIRATES!

30-1.jpg

Upside: I really, really like Pirates, and actively collect Pirate comics.

Downside: I don’t really know anything else about it. It’s not on any of the three-or-four Best! Manga! Ever! lists I checked out, unlike the other three.

Planettes: Sci-Fi Space Exploration.

planetes.jpg

Upside: The couple panels I saw in my not-even-sort-of adequate research looked pretty cool. Also: Only four volumes.

Downside: Astronauts in space and NOT, as far as I can tell, fighting giant laser octopuses. Could be boring.

Monster: Silence of the lambs type thriller, I think.

Monster.JPG

Upside: Looks the most similar to Death Note of the four recommended. Wikipedia calls it Drama, Horror, Mystery, Detective fiction, Psychological.

Downside: LONG. 18 volumes. Also not much of a change of piece.

And… over to you loyal(?) comment-tators. One man/gal one vote, unless you give a good reason. Then your vote is worth more.

VOTE!

55 Comments

I’d go with the Planetes. It’s been made into a anime, but I don’t know if the whole story has been told. If you like SF or space habitats in general you might like it. It’s the only one on your list that I know of. If you like Pirates, I suggest you check out Jeff Nicholson’s Colonia, which has pirates and some fantasy aspects, plus he writes about his interest about pirates and such. As far as manga though also check out some of Tezuka’s manga like Phoenix or Buddha, you’ll be hooked.

for some magical fantasy/comedy try king of hell.

sorry, i just messed up on that last post

Yotsuba&! is terminally cute, but in a weird way. It’s a quick read and is a lot like cotton candy: pretty, sweet, but doesn’t really last very long.

Try MPD – Psycho. ;-)

I have read a significant chunk of the first volume of Monster (I’m pitifully poor at the moment so I can’t afford to buy any trades; I have to settle for reading stuff in book stores) and I found it to be fantastic. I’d recommend it.

If you have a superhero sensibility, which I think you do from reading your posts, you are sure to like One Piece. it’s ostensibly about pirates, but really, it’s an old-school superhero story.

The rest of the choices I haven’t tried yet, so I can’t give recommendations there, although I am going to start Monster this week. I’ve heard great things about it.

I say Planetes! It is, admittedly, the only one of these that I have read, but I really liked it a lot. No giant laser octopuses or whatever, but it`s still in space, and it`s mostly good drama. Also, it`s quite well drawn, though the art has some aspects to it that I don`t like.

You know what a better way to do this would be, now that I think of it? Manga covers all types of genres, just like American comics do. So it’d help to know the types of American comics you prefer, because then we could recommend manga with similar sensibilities. Me for example, I prefer most of my manga to be action-oriented, but with a lot of thought behind it.

I haven’t read Planetes so I can’t recommend it one way or the other. I have read (portions of) the other three however.

One Piece, which I read for two months in Shonen Jump, is aimed at young boys and is one of those comics which I think only really works at that level. I’d pass.

The other two choices are fantastic and you can’t go wrong.

I’m only one volume into Monster, but it was excellent and from what I’ve heard from people I respect (mostly Dan Grendell and Randy Lander at http://www.comicpants.com) it stays excellent throughout its run. (I have heard some folks say that some of the volumes are stronger than others, however.)

Yotsuba&! is not only my favorite manga, but it’s solidly within my top five comics of all time. It takes a special disposition because yes, it’s all about the cute. But it’s done so well you can’t help but enjoy it. It’s about a little girl who is absolute and pure innocence and how she interacts with the world around her. It’s a celebration of life. I could not recommend it more.

Dan Grendell’s review of the latest volume of Yotsuba&!:

http://comicpants.com/?p=2273

One of the most delightful manga to come along in quite some time, this is the chronicle of the daily adventures of Yotsuba, the little girl with the big imagination. In direct contrast to much of hide-bound Japanese society, she lives without preconceptions and wrings every bit of life from each minute. This book never fails to make me smile and laugh deep, rumbling laughs, as Yotsuba’s wild ways bring joy to the lives of everyone around her. This volume features an encounter with a cardboard robot, and Yotsuba’s nemesis- her father’s assistant Yanda!

Here’s what he had to say about volume 8 of Monster:

http://comicpants.com/?p=1695

A thrill-ride of a suspense series, Monster keeps you constantly on your toes and never lets up. Once upon a time, a doctor saved a young boy. Now that boy has become a heartless killer, and the doctor is tracking him down while evading police for murders the boy commited. What does the now-adult murderer really want, and what kind of secrets doe she hide? Will the doctor actually be able to pull the trigger if and when he finds him? Conspiracies, mysteries, murders, and lies abound in this intricate tale of skeletons in the closet and tests of humanity.

Different Dave than the first commenter, I’m the one who recommended Berserk last time. I’m going to throw in for Yotsuba&! as well. It’s by far one of the most charming, purely enjoyable comics I’ve read since Calvin and Hobbes, and Azuma’s sense of comedic timing is dead-on. Plus, each story is essentially self-contained, so it doesn’t require the same commitment that most Mangas do.

Monster is another excellent series, and definitely one of my favorites, but I’m leaning towards Yotsuba&! solely as a change of pace after reading Death Note. I’d say that you can give Yotsuba a try for one volume to see if you like it, and if not you can move onto Monster for another psychological thriller.

One Piece has alot of that over the top zaniness that I’m personally fond of, though I’ve fallen a bit behind as far as the volumes go due to following it in the monthly Jump mag.

I actually would’ve recommended Hikaru No Go, which was the illustrator of Death Note’s prior work. It’s a game/sports manga so it’s a very different sort of story yet actually has a few similarities which could be interesting to compare (despite having different authors). The downside is that there’s alot of explanation in the series, of both the game and the tournament world built around it, which one could find either fascinating or really boring.

Yeah I know that’s sort of cheating there, but I wanted to suggest it in the previous thread and had forgotten.

One Piece, which I read for two months in Shonen Jump, is aimed at young boys and is one of those comics which I think only really works at that level. I’d pass.

I’d have to respectfully disagree with this one. It’s no more kids-only than, say, Lee-Ditko Spider-Man or any modern superhero comic out there today. I’d call it all-ages, if anything.

You know what a better way to do this would be, now that I think of it? Manga covers all types of genres, just like American comics do. So it’d help to know the types of American comics you prefer, because then we could recommend manga with similar sensibilities. Me for example, I prefer most of my manga to be action-oriented, but with a lot of thought behind it.

Really, this is as much about polling the commentators as what I like.

But if you think it’ll help…

Stuff I like is (in more-or-less order of importance) 1) original 2) well crafted or has 3) some thematic depth or 4) pirates.

Big on magical realism or outright surrealism.

Really like Love and Rockets, Tales of the Beaworld, Kim Deitch’s stuff and Old School Spider-man.

Also,: 100 Years of Solitude, Ulysses, Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, and Winnie the Pooh.

(And Charles Mingus, Marcel Duchamp, Samuel Beckett and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if that helps any.)

Yotsuba&! is charming and Monster is really good but Planetes is one of the best comics I’ve ever read.

One Piece is totally f-ing sweet, I’ve been a big fan for years. Way smarter than it looks at first, easily better than the rest of the junk out of Jump. It doesn’t get much love at all, and I guess I accept that now. But definitely check it out for yourself instead of passing.

Oooo, this is tough. All but One Piece are titles I readily recommend to friends who don’t normally read manga, or even comics in at least one case. I will vote for Yotsuba as it is tremendously funny, even with the heavy Japanese cultural angle to some of the gags (which are explained in the book).

Planetes sounds like it might be boring, but it isn’t at all. It is very engaging and reflective, with a wonderful cast of characters and some action-based subplots centered around the idea of eco-terrorism in space.

Monster is a wonderfully addictive thriller that reads almost like a mystery novel. Eleven volumes in so far and it has never failed to impress me with the depth of story or the research that went into early 1990′s post-Berlin Wall Germany.

So, a vote for Yotsuba, though Planetes and Monster are well worth checking out too. So are Nausicaa Of The Valley Of Wind, Akira, Blade Of The Immortal, Azumanga Daioh (from the creator of Yotsuba), Genshiken, Priest, BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad and a ton of others that don’t fit into the typical American comic fan’s usual perception of what manga is. If you want to try out a Shonen Jump title, I recommend Bleach or Rurouni Kenshin before One Piece.

I’ve heard many good things about Planetes as a space horror.

Planetes is deeply cool, and I second (third, fourth, whatever) the recommendation.

One Piece is probably one of my favorite Manga of all time. And I learned to read Japanese 10 years ago on Manga and cart boxes of it from country to country as I move through my life. I can’t really bear to throw them away.

It’s longer than any of the others. It’s shockingly long. Some volumes are action heavy and it’s extremely fantastical (is that a word). So you won’t get the sort of grinding intensity of a book like Monster.

But it’s profoundly creative and similar in many ways to American comics and the proto-American epic (i.e. Horatio Alger pull-yourself-up-by-the-boostraps (with a dose of luck) type adventure. With crazy superpowers and a serious focus on pirates.)

I never got into Monster, the other book in your list that I’ve read. I have the first eight lying around somewhere, but I felt like the plodding psychodrama was a bit predictable (and the medical terminology pushed my reading speed way down). I felt the same way about 20th Century Boys (though I made it a lot further). The narrative scope of Urasawa’s works is sometimes a bit much for me. And he tends to drag out mysteries. The pacing is almost certainly a lot better if you’re reading in your native language though.

But they’re so different that it’s hard to compare really.

I can’t speak about the other two (so maybe I don’t know as much about Manga as I like to think).

If I had to pick a manga from that list that someone who loves Death Note would like it would be Monster. Monster has the same kind of moral complexity that drives Death Note. There’s a theme that runs through Monster of responsibility for the past and the duties that result. It drives just about every major and minor character and none of them have the same response to it.

The show is also spectacular but I suspect that it will never be licensed for release in the US. It’s 74 episodes long and in a genre that will actively drive away the bulk of the typical anime fans which makes it terminally unprofitable for a company to license. Which is a shame since it’s a show that looks great and has one of the moodiest soundtracks you’ll find. Maybe if the movie in the US gets made…

All four manga are worth reading, for different reasons, but the best of the bunch is Planetes. Buy it!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Planetes is off the list, ’cause it already got reviewed. :)

I’ll see if the library has it. But they’re not completely reliable. I had a hold placed on Yotsuba, but then it turned up missing.

I would go for Planetes.

If you think Monster is long at 18 don’t even think about doing One Piece. I live in Japan and it’s still going strong. It’s has around 47 or so volumes out and still going. It’s a lot of fun I think. It’s an all ages comic, but I wouldn’t say it’s made solely young boys.
However, with that said and being limited to the choices on your list I’d pick Monster. I’ve never read Yotsuba, but I have/do read One Piece and Monster. While I think One Piece is overall more fun, you’ll have a lot of reading ahead of you. Also I found the story of Monster more satisfying in a way.

Planetes I have but is sitting in my massive stack of manga to be read so I can’t recommendd it really, but the anime is very good, and I expect good things of the manga. Planetes also has the advantage of being only 5 volumes so it’s fairly reasonable in price and time commitment.

One Piece is fun, and has the advantage of not looking like any other manga out there, so it could give you a different perspective, but it’s a long ongoing series that hasn’t all been collected in english, and may still be going in Japan, so you won’t get a complete story like with Death Note or Planetes.

If Planetes is off the list though, I guess I’d recommend One Piece. If you’re checking a library though, see if they have Lone Wolf and Cub, which is a must read but kind of long.

Yotsuba&! That is all.

[...] At Comics Should Be Good, MarkAndrew is wondering which manga to read next. Go there and help him choose! [...]

Yotsuba&. My wife and I use it as an emergency emotional band-aid whenever we get bad news. It has never failed to make me laugh out loud.

One Piece!

I’ve never commented here before so you have no reason to trust my opinion but even if it doesn’t win this vote I hope you’ll buy it sometime in the near future.

I’m a 28 year old female so I really think anyone can enjoy this title. Basically anyone just looking for a FUN comic should fall in love with it. I did. Honestly I’ve never had more fun reading a comic in my life. I actually laugh out loud while reading it and probably have the biggest, silliest grin on my face the whole time too. It’s so over-the-top, larger than life. Tons of adventure, friendship, and the strangest looking villians you’ve ever seen.

The artwork is so great! I already liked it when I checked out #1 at the library but then when I went to my local bookstore (that doesn’t have much manga compared to the big chains) and I saw One Piece #11-16 (quickly buying them, no longer caring about getting them for free from the library) I was blown away by how much better and more detailed the artwork had become.

This comic is just full of so much LIFE! It’ll make you want to get a pirate crew together and battle Luffy yourself to become the pirate king.

I’ve never cared much for action, battle scenes (not even when I was regularly buying superhero comics….I was more into the teamwork, friendship, and angst between the heroes) but I actually really, really like the fight scenes in One Piece. They’re just so crazy and fun.

I haven’t fallen this hard, this fast for a manga since first getting into them two years ago when I read Fruits Basket. They’re completely different but they both made me rush out to buy all the other volumes that have been released so far. I just wish One Piece wasn’t about 30 volumes behind what’s been released in Japan…

I really love how varied the female characters are too. Every kind of character under the sun shows up and they’re all just…nuts. Or cool. Sometimes cool AND nuts.

PLUS GIANT FLESH EATING BUNNIES!!!!!!

No title on that list would be a bad choice but I’m also going to vote for Yotsuba&!. It’s gentle, silly fun that also does a very good job in capturing the joy and wonder that can be found in everyday life.

You should also check out this review of One Piece that Jason Thompson did (from Manga: The Complete Guide)…that review is what made me check out the series in the first place. You could really feel the warmth and affection he has for the series so I figured I’d give the books a try and I’m so glad I did. Here’s a link to his livejournal where he links to the MySpace post with his top ten manga list for newbies that has the review:

http://khyungbird.livejournal.com/25572.html

[quote]If you have a superhero sensibility, which I think you do from reading your posts, you are sure to like One Piece. it’s ostensibly about pirates, but really, it’s an old-school superhero story.[/quote]

T. I respect your opinion, but I have to respectfully disagree. Yeah the characters have powers and fight ‘bad guys,’ but super-heroes don’t have those ideas copyrighted. I feel like One Piece has more in common with the Odyssey, Journey to the West or, at least, Popeye if you want to talk about American comics.

That said, One Piece is pure fun, but as everyone has said, it’s already 40+ volumes and it’s not over yet.

Yotsuba& is genius. As is the recently released Azumanga Daioh Omnibus by the same creator.

The nearest manga title I can think of to Death Note would be ES Eternal Sabbath from Del Rey.

In a related vein, I would also recommend Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, as well.

Then on a competely different tangent, if you like Love and Rockets I would recommend Nana or Paradise Kiss.

Monster > Planetes > Yotsuba > One Piece.

There you go.

PLUS GIANT FLESH EATING BUNNIES!!!!!!

Very compelling argument.

Well, the whole thing but this in particular. I’ve had bunnies on the brain lately.

A team of good guys with superpowers and fantastic abilities regularly fighting enemies with superpowers and fantastic abilities? Sounds much more like superheroics than Popeye to me.

One Piece wins hands down.
It’s a modern day Spider-man done manga style.

T., you just described Journey to the West. Or any Final Fantasy game. Fantastic powers aren’t unique to the superhero genre. Costumes, code names (Luffy isn’t called Stretchy Guy), secret identities, and a civilian life are however unique to the genre, yet they are all missing in One Piece. The fact that the One Piece characters are after an achievable goal (fnding the One Piece) instead of “fighting crime” makes it more adventure than superhero.

One Piece is definitely like the Popeye comic strip. The kinds of adventures are very similar. For example, hunting for treasure? Popeye yes, Spider-man not so much. Plus, Popeye had Eugene the Jeep, and fought Alice the Goon and other the Sea Hag more than he fought Bluto.

Anyway, we both agree it’s a great comic, your definition of “superheroic” just seems to be broader than mine.

You should check out the Manga Bible by Zondervan. http://www.zgraphicnovels.com. Or have you heard about the edu-manga? I just got into manga and I think it’s interesting how many variations of manga they have. So of course neither of those listed are pure manga but still fun reading!

My vote goes for Monster. It’s fabulous and has a depth of characters you won’t find in some novels (even with an ensemble cast – though it does have a bizarre habit of having what appeared to be one-shot characters reappearing for some fleshing in), plus it explores the past (a lot) and how much what’s happened in the past affects a person and it has one of the finest (and most fleshed out) villains I’ve ever seen in anything. And it’s always fun to watch things that seem unrelated suddenly start to worm their way into the plot. Fantastic stuff.

On the downside, the pace can be very slow which puts some people off, and the narrative can switch focus – neither of these are necessarily bad, but some people aren’t fond of it.

As smart and clever as Monster is, I’m going to vote One Piece.

It’s endlessly visually inventive, Oda’s influences are vast and ever expanding and it has the best narrative structure of any long running shonen manga today.

Thanks guys.  Some really good thoughts.  This has been fun.

For the record “Voting ends whenever I make it to the comic shop next, probably Thursday the 15th.”

I forgot to put this in the original piece, and am just editing it in now.

Go with Yotsuba&! You’ll not be disappointed.

MONSTER!!!

For the record, I have read all four of those series, and I love ‘em all to death, Yotsuba& included. >

Rah. Didn’t realize Planetes had already been reviewed. >

“though (Monster) does have a bizarre habit of having what appeared to be one-shot characters reappearing for some fleshing in”

As far as Urasawa’s work goes, Monster has nothing on 20th Century Boys in that regard. As I remember it, in 20thCB, they’re still introducing obscure characters from the protagonist’s childhood as crucial characters in the last volume. Of course, half of the plot doesn’t even get resolved by the “end” of the series because then it spins off into the sequel, 21st Century Boys.

I vote One Piece, but only because I haven’t read it (I’ve seen a few episodes of the anime though) and would like to see what you think. It looks crazy and fun, so maybe I’ll get to it someday.

Out of the others, I highly recommend Planetes, even if you don’t review it. It’s a thoughtful, realistic series about life in space, with good character development and even some exciting plots. One of the first manga series I read, and still one of the best.

I’m slowly working my way through Monster (I just reviewed the third volume yesterday), and it’s also really, really good. I often get way behind on manga series, but this is one I’ll probably rush out and spend money on so I can catch up (that’s what I did with Death Note, although it was only up to the sixth volume or so when I started reading).

As for Yotsuba, I finally caved and bought the first volume after reading review after review of people praising it to the heavens (the excerpts I’ve seen certainly helped me get on board). I haven’t read it yet, but I’m hoping it doesn’t let me down.

Damn. I love all four of those series.

Though to eliminate, One Piece is looooong. Vol 16 just came out (reading it myself right now) and lord knows what they have out in Japan. Even the anime on TV is further than the US manga. You’d have to go to online scanlations (shh) if you want to catch up while the US manga is slowly released. It’s a kids book, but a brilliant one. Gets surprising serious at points. Also, the art is cartoonish, but in a very good way. Off hand I can only think of Kyle Baker doing caricatures this well. Though his stuff isn’t really for kids.

Yotsuba is light fare. Though that might be a plus. It’s a simple family comedy. More.. I don’t know. Though it’s not as deep as Calvin and Hobbes, but it is funny and quite enjoyable.

Planetes is finished. It’s actually 5 volumes, the last one is large and split up into two books.

Monster is plugging away. I don’t know how long it is, but they’re up to 11. (Sadly, I somehow missed five and keep forgetting to find a copy as I keep buying the new ones.) It’s a very good fugitive tale with an interesting mystery.

So I guess the best bet is Planetes or maybe Yotsuba for light fare. Though all of them are excellent, One Piece and Monster are simply long.

i dont know which manga i should read next. ( I really liked FULL METAL ALCHEMIST.)

[...] ‘Bout a week back I took a “What Manga Should I Read Next” poll, and (unless I counted wrong) that green haired moppet above was the winner, beating out One Piece by all of one vote. (Although I did get the first two volumes of One Piece outta the library.) [...]

Um, if you haven’t read Monster or Planetes, they should be two of your MUST READ ASAP titles. Particularly Monster, which is my favorite manga ever.

And to HELL with that silly one piece shit.

MONSTER is a truly beautiful manga series-I fell in love with all the characters, even some of the antagonists. It’s the only manga series I regard as literature. Some come close, but I don’t hesitate when I think of MONSTER.
First off, I think it would make more sense to compare Death Note to Code Geass than Death Note and Monster. Death Note was fun to follow but I was really disgusted by Light in the end. Talk about a lack of dignity. Oh well, the ending to the manga was less embarrassing than the ending of the anime.
Some can say MONSTER is slow, but for me I actually appreciate how Urasawa does it. It was never “plodding” as that one commenter described it. Alot of side characters are woven into the story and it only gets more and more fleshed out as it progresses. When I write a series one day I will towards this one as my main inspiration. Plus, the research the author did on East European history is very impressive.

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