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Manga Before Flowers — Name the Best Manga of 2008!

I love end-of-year-lists. Particularly when I don’t have to make them.

So why don’t you all step up and tell me your TOP THREE picks for:

1) Best NEW manga of 2008 — “New” meaning a series that debuted for the first time in English this year.

2) Best CONTINUING manga of 2008 — “Continuing” meaning a series that debuted before 2008 and was released at least once this year.

Comment here and next week I’ll add up the responses and see what titles you all thought deserved to be declared the “best.” (One shots published in 2008 are eligible to be declared the “best” as well).

Then we can argue relentlessly about the answers. Sounds like fun, right?


Yay! Lists!

Best NEW Manga:

COWA! by Akira Toriyama
GANTZ by Hiroya Oku
REAL by Takehiko Inoue


ARIA by Kozue Amano
PHOENIX by Osamu Tezuka
VAGABOND by Takehiko Inoue

To be fair, I’ll share my picks as well:

Best New Manga:
1) Blackjack (Osamu Tezuka) ——>ignoring Viz’s publication of title years earlier ….because I can.
2) Real (Takehiko Inoue)
3) High School Debut (Kazune Kawahara)

Best Continuing Series
1) NANA (Ai Yazawa)
2) After School Nightmare (Setona Mizushiro)
3) Fruits Basket (Natsuki Takaya)

Okay, I feel like I don’t have enough information to answer the first question, because I realized that I’ve read very few manga that debuted in English in 2008, and I feel weird just listing the few I have read by default. *So* I’ll just give you my answer to the second question:

Best Continuing Series

1. xxxHolic (CLAMP)
2. Fullmetal Alchemist (Hiromu Arakawa)
3. NANA (Ai Yazawa)

This order is not based on quality of the series content alone. I’m also taking into account how readable the English adaptation is, quality of production, paper, packaging, and some issues of personal taste (for instance, I prefer adaptations that keep things as Japanese as possible, particularly when the story is set in Japan, including honorifics, etc., so that places xxxHolic well above NANA, though I wouldn’t necessarily say that xxxHolic is inherently *better*).

For the record, even though I can’t really give you a top three for new manga this year, if I *could*, I’d definitely have put Tezuka’s Dororo on the list.

Oh, tough one. I disclaim that this is how I feel right at this moment and that I will happily disavow it later if I see something shiny. And that these are in no particular order.

Best New Manga:

1) Real, by Takehiko Inoue, Viz
2) Sand Chronicles, by Hinako Ashihara, Viz
3) Disappearance Diary, by Hideo Azuma, Fanfare/Ponent Mon

Best Continuing Manga:

1) After School Nightmare, by Setona Mizushiro, Go! Comi
2) The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, by Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki, Dark Horse
3) Mushishi, by Yuki Urushibara, del Rey

Melinda — ohhhhhh. Wow. I forget ‘holic. Mmmmmm. This is why I voted ASAP so I wouldn’t be swayed by others ;-)

Nice point about the whole package — I really dislike NANA’s english localization and hate myself for thinking (i.e. whining in my head) “but in the scanlation they did it so much better *pout*! On the other hand, the volumes of NANA released this year really were incredible in so many ways so I don’t regret that I voted it my top continuing series.

Even if you don’t have three choices I’ll count Dororo as your number 1 for best new manga.
So your list would just look sad, like this:

Best NEW manga of 2008:
1. Dororo (Osamu Tezuka)


Greg — oohhhh. Your “continuing series” list really made me think twice about the quality titles that come out that aren’t necessarily very flashy or make a lot of waves, but are still great manga nonetheless. Thanks for joining in! And yes, yea lists!

David — ha! I want that “shiny” / “disavow later” saying on a bumper sticker or something. Seriously, my list will probably change because I had pizza for dinner or something. Great choices by the way — I’m not caught up on Kurosagi, but if I were I bet that title would have ended up on my best CONTINUING series list (I’ve only read up to volume 4). Also, ASN Solidarity makes me very, very happy….

Danielle — I don’t want to hurt the feelings of any of the other shojo crack out there, and I hope it knows I love it too, but ASN is THE shojo crack.

I haven’t picked up too many new licensed manga this year, so I don’t think I can really say ‘best’, but I know there are a few I enjoyed the hell out of:

New Manga:
Silver Diamond (It does get better!)
A Strange and Mystifying Story (Suzuki Tsuta is in my top five yaoi mangaka – she brings something new to the table every time; similar to Kunieda Saika in that respect)
Maka-Maka (…I have no defence for this choice, I just love it to bits)

Sentimental Runner-Up: Future Lovers

Continuing Series:
Afterschool Nightmare

Sentimental Runner-Up: Junjou Romantica

I’m a loyalist deep down, and these manga are the foundation from which I can branch out. And they’re so consistently *good*, especially ASN, which is proof positive that Mizushiro Setona really is out to make my heart stop one of these days.

hi Ellie — Things like “Silver Diamond” and “A Strange and Mystifying Story” (both of which I enjoyed greatly) make me think about setting up another category we can vote on, such as “Most Enjoyable Read of 2008″. I’ve enjoyed many manga this year that don’t quite qualify as “great” but were so much fun to read I’d still like to honor them in some way. I’m a big fan of Junjo and Future Lovers as well. Damn. There was just too much good manga this year!

I’m thinking of doing an ASN reread in time for the last volume released (schedule in Jan. 09). That series really showed how much strangeness shojo can accommodate.

The only manga I read in 2008 was the latest volume of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. So I’ll vote for that! Because dang! it’s good.

Danielle: Oh, that list of mine looks so sad! I need to read more things quickly before the end of the year, so I have more to add! I thought of adding Seduce Me After the Show, but though I liked it a lot, I’m not sure it would hold up if I’ve read more. Everything else I read that was new this year, I *know* does not belong on the list, so I suppose that means something. Heh.

Ellie: I forgot about Mushishi! Gah! Well, it might not have beat out my other three anyway, but that’s a great choice.

Greg B — great “choice!” ;-) Man, I need to catch up with Kurosagi like five minutes ago….I’ll count that as a top place vote for best continuing series!

1. Black Jack
2. Wendy Pini’s Mask of the Red Death – yeah, it’s OEL manga, but I really like it.
3. Sugar Princess Skate to Win – the girls in my elementary library are enjoying this one.

1. Monster
2. Emma (I think she continued into this year before ending, didn’t she?)

Hmmm, guess I’ve cut back more on my buying than I thought, ’cause I can’t think of another one. ;)

There are only two that really intrigued me this year.

Best New Manga:

Nabari No Ou by Yuhki Kamatan (only 4 chapters available in Yen Plus so far, but still the best drawn manga I have ever seen IMHO)

Best Continuing Manga

D. Gray Man by Katsura Hoshino

For Best Continuing I would say:

1. XXXholic
2. Nana
3. Negima

I feel really bad leaving off Fruits Basket, but it slowed down this year quite a bit with supporting characters of supporting characters of supporting characters and their plots which didn’t hold interest for me nearly enough. It does seem to winding to an ending very soon, which does me eagerly anticipate each volume.

XXXholic was a great and fascinating series when it was mostly one off morality plays, but now that we seem to have a significant main plot its impossible to put down. The relationships formed along the way have really begun to be tested and we have lots of selfless sacrifices and future tensions. Waiting until March for the next volume is torture.

Nana has consistently been great drama and shojo fun/anguish. The narration from our “future” Nana that seems to always forebode worse things to come for our characters and our relationships only heightens the drama.

Negima has been all over the place in terms of what the series seems to be about from arc to arc but it has done all of them interestingly. I was a bit skeptical of a tournament/fighting arc when it started but even though it went on for a very long time it kept interest the whole time. With a new arc starting now the book has done a great job of sustaining interest across 19 volumes when other series have suffered due to longevity (Fruits Basket with too many side characters, Tsubasa with excruciating pacing for about 16 volumes)

Best New Series

Sadly I think the only new series I have read are Rosario + Vampire (which has been quite enjoyable but not great by any means) and Kujibiki Unbalance (which was forgettable, adding nothing beyond the anime series). I will be getting the new series by the Fruits Basket mangaka, Phantom Dream when it comes out on December 16th, so it might win the category

Best Light Novel

1. Boogie Pop at Dawn

While not an offered category, they finally came out with the 4th Boogie Pop light novel about 2 years after the last and it proved to be a good addition to the series. A nice horror/sci-fi/indescribable series that I recommend wholeheartedly (the anime was quite good as well).

So those are my picks with way too much exposition.

Best Continuing:
1. Monster
2. Kindaichi
3. Case Closed

Best New:
1. Black Jack
2. High School Debut
3. Love Com

I’m holding off on posting because we’re doing something similar for Manga Recon, but I must chime in for the love of Silver Diamond and also in appreciation of David’s disavowal quip. :)

La la la, I am bolding impaired.

*pouts at Jun* You could use an alias! Then the integrity ….awww shucks. Even I don’t buy that line of reasoning…but I look forward to seeing your list at Manga Recon!

It’s really hard to choose only 3!

Best NEW Manga:
the sand chronicles
monkey high
high school debut

Hikaru no go
Skip Beat!
Ouran High School Host Club

badzphoto — clearly you are a shojo lover after my own heart!

The only NEW thing I’ve read is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and – since I’d already seen the Anime – I only bought it because I thought I was getting the original “Light Novels”. Seriously, how are those not translated yet?

1) Fullmetal Alchemist
2) Negima
3) Shaman King

hee, is that obvious? I should also mention Nana, fullmetal alchemist, and nodame cantabile as honorable continuing series :)

[…] Danielle Leigh is taking names of the best manga of 2008 in the comments section of her Manga Before Flowers column at Comic Book Resources. Go, […]

Although this might change before the end of the year, my current picks are:

Best new manga:

1. Solanin
2. Real
3. Dororo.

Best continuing manga:

1. Nana
2. Slam Dunk
3. One-Pound Gospel

There are plenty of others that could fit on that list, of course…

Best New Manga:
1. Sand Chronicles
2. Solanin
3. We Were There (this series just debuted last month, but prepare for a shojo punch to the heart in the coming volumes. I’m so happy VIZ picked this title up!)

Best Continuing Manga:
1. Nana
2. Loveless
3. Suppli (I hope it gets to continue on next year as well…)

Best New Manga:
1. High School Debut
2. VB Rose
3. Honey & Clover

Best Continuing Manga:
1. Nana
2. Fruits Basket
3. Ouran High School Host Club

[…] be collecting your picks for TOP THREE New Manga and Continuing Series of 2008 here.  Don’t come crying to me that Princess Ai: Rumors from the Other Side was declared this […]



did tekkonkonkret come out this year?

nope, tekkon was last year, and great choices! Clearly getting in the seinen vote while you still can!

Black Jack
Gantz (by default of not having read much else new)

MPD Psycho
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service

My vote for this and any other year:
Fist of the Northstar

Best new series: Fujoshi Rumi
Black Jack

Best Continuing Series: Swan
Hikaru No Go

hi Erin! Ohhh…I was debating Fujoshi Rumi as my best new series….somehow I ended up with the safer but still very good “High School Debut” as my token shojo pick.

And SWAN! Oh dear, I miss Swan…..I hope CMX really gets around to finishing the series one of these days….that and From Eroica with Love. I’ve missed them terribly these past few months…

Best New:
1. Black Jack (I’ll go with Danielle who ciunted this depite Viz’s previous release)
2. Dance In The Vampire Bund
3. Black Lagoon

with an honorable mention to Hayate x Blade which got cut from my list only because I’ve only read 1 volume of it, but 2 of each of these series.

Best Continuing manga:
1. Fruits Basket
2. Monster
3. Berserk

I would have counted xxxHolic, but it feels like it’s been forever since the last volume…

eden its an endless world needs to get some sort of honorable mention. i hope it doesn’t get canceled.

Tom Fitzpatrick

December 8, 2008 at 6:08 pm

1) Lone Wolf and Cub (always and ever)
2) Death Note
3) MPD Psycho

Best New:
Me and the Devil Blues: The Unreal Life of Robert Johnson
Black Jack

Best Continuing:
Hunter X Hunter
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service
Dragon Head

hi Tom,

Hmmm….I’m not sure those titles (with the exception of MPD Psycho released new volumes this year) so only MPD Psycho would be eligible for Best New Series. Do you want to change update your list?

I really haven’t read much manga this year, but I’ll throw in a few choices I guess:

Best New:
1. Black Jack (haven’t had a chance to read Dororo yet, sadly)
2. Bat-Manga (does this count?)
3. Gantz (Even though it doesn’t start really taking off until the Buddha aliens, which I don’t think will be released until at least 2009)

Best Continuing:
1. Berserk
2. Monster

Actually, that covers pretty much all the manga I read that were commercially released in America this year. I bought a couple Suehiro Maruo and Hideo Yamamoto tankoubons at a used bookstore, but I cant actually read them, I just got them to admire the art. I really wish more of Yamamoto’s work would get licensed for US distribution. I know Ichi is a tough sell due to the insane sexual/violent content, and Homunculus is pretty far out there as well, but they’re both excellent series deserving of wider recognition.

Ok, got my best new list ready:

1. Rosario+ Vampire
2. We Were There
3. Honey & Clover

We Were there could be > than Rosario, but with volume 1 being alot of set up its still behind.

1 Naruo
2 Dragon Ball Z
3 Death Note


GO Naruto

Spain Rodriguez’s Che: A Graphic Biography
Death Note
Toufic El Rassi’s Arab in America

hi Elena, well….Death Note counts but the others won’t because they aren’t manga.

Best new:

Honey & Clover

and … err … man, I didn’t read too much in the way of new (or “new”) manga this year. But …

Best ongoing:

Excel Saga (criminally underrated, underdiscussed, underread …)
One Piece

I can’t help checking this every couple of days to see what other people are saying! :D This entry is addictive, Danielle!

Erin: I considered Hikaru no Go on my list too, but I kind of hate the extreme Americanization of the Viz editions. Am I being too harsh?

[…] am official addicted to Danielle Leigh’s Best Manga of 2008 thread over at Manga Before Flowers. I made my picks for best continuing series back when she first […]

Answering Melinda’s plea for more voters!

Best New:

Sand Chronicles
High School Debut
Honey & Clover

(We Were There also looks really promising, but I haven’t read the second volume yet.)

Best Continuing:

Fruits Basket
…and I’m going to go with xxxHOLiC for my third, but there’re a lot of contenders (Ouran, ASN, Kurosagi, FMA, Monster…). Furuba and NANA were no-brainers for me, though. I’m madly in love with both of them. ^_^

For me,

Best New:
Black Jack
High School Debut
Sand Chronicles

Best Continuing:
Tail of the Moon


Real – Takehiko Inoue


Vagabond- Takehiko Inoue


Alright, I’ll bite:


1) Real
2) Me and the Devil Blues


1) Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service
2) Death Note (Well, sorta)

Re: Swan, Amazon shows Swan 15 will come out in August 2009.

Grar, I totally closed that bold thingie. I guess that’ll ensure you see it, at least.

Also sent by Melinda:

Best new:
High School Debut
Kiichi and the Magic Books
Silver Diamond

– all the other ones I came up with (ZigZag, Hibiki’s Magic)started with their first volumes last November or December, oh well.

Cipher (ended)

I’d put Fruits Basket here, too, but that’s already been mentioned enough.

Wow, this is tough! I haven’t read much “new” manga this year – most manga is new to me so I haven’t really kept up with when things come out. I’ll say that I am really enjoying:

1. Nabari no Ou
2. High School Debut
3. Ummm… Those two are really the only new ones I’ve read and enjoyed.

For best continuing, though:

1. xxxHolic
2. D. Gray-man (I will second Elena’s lonely recommendation, lol. D. Gray-man is absolutely amazing and needs more love)
3. Bleach (I can’t help it; I love it)

I’m a bit of a neophyte dabbler when it comes to those funny right-to-left funnies, and I realize the deadline is now quite passed, but here goes…

1) Maka Maka – I don’t care, it’s gorgeous and moving and the world would be a better place if we had more yuri that didn’t look it was conceived by a 13 year old male
2) Me and the Devil Blues – too intriguing to pass up
3) Cat-Eyed Boy – haven’t read vol 2 yet, but 1 is creepily delicious

1) Monster – I haven’t finished it yet, so it may yet fall apart (see #3 below), but I love it as much for the smaller moments and one-off chapters as for the main story
2) Berserk – I’m waaaaay behind on this one, but it’s always managed to fulfill both my barbaric and court intrigue joneses
3) Death Note – I actually thought the end worked okay, but some of the second half’s “twists” were pretty lame. I think it has to go on here as a watershed in manga considering how much it crossed over into the greater US comics and sci-fi/fantasy markets

I just started reading manga this April thanks to Melinda and this was such a difficult list to make. I have not read any manga that was newly published this year (well one – the disappointing Necratoholic) so my votes are just for best continuing series:

1) xxxHolic – the crack recommended by Melinda that started this all for me.
2)Fruits Basket – this series has such a warm and cozy place in my heart

Oh so hard to choose! I considered listing Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles as tied with xxxHolic. The series really grabbed hold of me with volume 16 and since its story is irrevocably intertwined with that of xxxHolic, I really cannot consider my love for one without the other. I also agonized over including Fullmetal Alchemist, which if you ask me tomorrow I’ll wish I had put in place of Bleach.

Wow, thanks to new comments and the (kind) last push from Melinda…I’m very happy to have extra votes to count even though I am an idiot when it comes to math, I think I’ll be able to manage these numbers :-)

Estara — now I wish I had voted for Silver Diamond as best new manga (my reread convinced it isn’t just a guilty pleasure) and I’ve really been enjoying Cipher (I’m up to volume 8 now). I just have a thing for older shojo….it is shame it is isn’t published much in the states.

Danielle – I have heard there’s another series spin-off from Cipher which actually is supposed to be even better in the young adult melodrama: Alexandrite. I don’t know how well Cipher sold, but CMX have taken risks before… let’s not give up hope.

I love the fact that Cipher doesn’t have the girl that was introduced at the start as the heroine, but the twins are the heroes ^^. It has a satisfying ending, as well (but that one utter over the top bit – the car accident… really could have been taken out :P).

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