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Manga Before Flowers — Danielle Will Tell You What To Read!

One of the things I first did when I joined the blog (after introducing myself, of course) was make a three-part post of manga recommendations for adults (assuming, of course, that would be of greatest interest to this crowd).  But that was a while ago and I figured since I’m always telling MarkAndrew what to read (we live in the same town which has a library with an insane gn / manga collection) and very often he even likes the books I tell him about!  (Sometimes he reads manga titles I don’t tell him about, and while I don’t recommend not listening to me, he’s stubborn, that one).

Since the whole conversation has come up again about getting your “special lady” to read the comics *you like* (based on the assumption only men read comics), instead of the comics women might like, I’d thought I’d turn the tables and see if I can make recommendations to folks who need a new manga title to read, or would simply like to try out manga out for the first time.   (See commentary by manga bloggers about this issue of “tricking” your girlfriend into liking your comics here, here, and here).

So, tell me anything — you like stories that focus on x, you don’t like stories that have y.   Actually, if you can, go ahead give me three key words.  And I’ll try my best to give you a recommendation or two that suits your taste.  Or you can claim that you’ll never like manga, EVER!!!!!, no matter what I do, get off my lawn you damn kid!, and I’ll still try to find something for you.  Because I’m nothing if not singleminded when it comes to manga.



Closest manga equivalents of ” post-human superhero ” stories, like WildStorm and the Ultimate Universe? If I like the kind of darkly humorous, culturally relevant takes on science fiction, what in manga would be the best?

Ohhhh…..very interesting. I’ll pool together my answers in the next post but you’ve given me a nice challenge! (Certainly, I’ll need to find you manga off the beaten-path! Luckily, I have one in mind already but I’ll try to scrounge up a few more…)

Are there any manga titles similar to Kindaichi Files and Detective Conan? Speaking of which, is Kindaichi Files officially no longer being published?

I enjoy Love.Com and High School Debut. I feel like they’re just the right mix of romantic comedy but I’m not looking for something like Love Hina.

And finally, who is better or close to being as good as Naoki Urasawa. I love Urasawa’s work on Monster, Pluto, 20th Century Boys. Which creator is as consistently good?

JimYung — some great questions! (I particularly like the second ’cause shojo is my strongest area).

I’ll be sure to get some great recommendations ready for you, although, yeah, Urasawa is going to be hard to beat, ya know? (Honestly, I might have to go to Tezuka titles if your looking for that level of storytelling technique!)

Three key words:
Humorous (actually, if you feel like finding me a girlfriend with the same attributes, go ahead!)

Speaking of the man himself, I just read Tezuka’s Buddha and loved it, so I pulled out three enjoyable qualities of that work. Thanks for the help, Danielle!

Dan — ohhhh. I already thought of at least two manga I can recommend (I think the real challenge is your including the word “existential” there), but I’m coming up blank on the girlfriend. ;-)

Hmm. Well, my favourite comic book is Legion of Super-Heroes. I like stuff that suggests that some intelligence went into its creation. I like baseball. I like Arthuriana. I like stuff that’s funny.

Got anything for me?

Thanks in advance.

[…] Leigh has an interesting challenge in her latest Manga Before Flowers column: Tell her what you like, and she’ll recommend a […]

Giant Robots

I’ve seen and enjoyed a bit of anime involving giant robots but so far, I haven’t been able to find any manga I’ve found interesting involving them besides Gurren Laggan, but I’ve already seen the anime.

And I’m also interested in Nitz’s inquiry as well.

And like you said, Tezuka may be one of the few to match Urasawa, but another duo that might be able to is Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.

Some key words…

My favorite comic writer is Grant Morrison so anything similar to his work is also something I’d be interested in.

Ok well I’ve read quite a few manga and so far I’ve liked Comedy, Romance, and poetry type things

I like josei/ shojo series that are not too romanti or smutty, my two favourites are Honey and Clover and NANA.

Thanks, guys, some great challenges here….I’ll probably start posting recommendations within the next few days, starting with first come, first serve!

I’ve gotten a bit of manga out from my library, but I haven’t LOVED any of it unreservedly. I often like the art, but the stories generally fail for me in one way or another. I will try ANYTHING as long as 1) it generally gets great critical reviews and 2) my local library system carries it. But I know you can’t do anything about #2.

My experience with shojo thus far has taught me that the Japanese really know how to work their audience and that, as a man, I AM NOT THE INTENDED AUDIENCE FOR GIRL COMICS! :) I tried Peach Fuzz because it got good reviews somewhere and it was definitely… not… for me. And though I pretty much gave up on shojo after that experience, I tried NANA since you like it so much. IIRC, you liked subsequent volumes more. But, nevertheless, I checked out vol. 1 and didn’t care for the art or the story. I always meant to check out another volume to see if I’d like it more, but have thus far not done so. I also tried the first vol. of Yotsuba! (not sure if that’s shojo) and didn’t like it enough to check out subsequent volumes especially since my library system doesn’t have vol. 2.

Death Note has probably been the manga that I’ve like the most though later volumes barely compare to the first 3 or 4. I also like Tezuka (Buddha probably the best) but though I love his cartooning, his stories often just don’t connect with me. I liked Akira enough to read it all but thought the story was pretty empty. I liked Monster but the library had only one volume. And I read some early volumes of Ranma 1/2 but never read any more since it seemed so repetitive.

One additional qualification is that I’d generally prefer for the story to be finished in less than 15 vol. If it’s ongoing with no end to the story in sight, I’m less inclined to get involved but still open to suggestions. And you can’t recommend The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service because my library doesn’t have it. And I’m still open to shojo suggestions because I like me some Maggie and Hopey and my share of chick flicks and I have a (usually) high tolerance for cutesy wootsy though I’m pretty sure any shojo that I’ll like is really going to have to straddle the shojo/shonen line or at the very least be pretty different from anything I’ve read thus far.

That was probably way more info than you wanted.

I’ve always been a huge manga-ite (if that’s even a real term); Back in high school i was in love with the standard shonen jump stuff (Bleach, Rurouni Kenshin, Hunter X Hunter). But at some point in time, it started to feel like that sort of stuff just dragged on and on. Maybe it’s just me. Now a days, I really prefer to read stories that are a bit more mature (er, if you consider Monster or Gantz mature that is.) In short, I’d really like to find more comics that blend the action/supernatural/magic/etc with deeper plots.

Also, I’ve always really wanted to bring this up: What are some manga you would recommend to fans of the Vertigo line of comics?

Oh wow… I wish I came here earlier. ^_^

If you have the time, mind recommending some manga?

I’m looking for something that’s a mix of shoujo and shounen… most of the manga I love tend to have aspects of both genres… and it has to be well-balanced…

Um… I like happy endings… or at least, not tragic endings, which probably doesn’t narrow the field much… if you want another condition, I hate love triangles where the third wheel doesn’t get a happy ending… but you don’t have to consider it if you don’t want to.

And lastly, I love my slice-of-life manga – I adore my ARIA… but if you can’t find anything, I don’t mind the twists of a good plot.

So yeah, if you have the time, please recommend me something, and thanks!

No worries — I’ll start today and keep on going till I reach the end! :-)

Everyone keep watch the blog — new rec posts will start going up soon!

Interesting challenge! Here are 3 points I would like a manga to have (I don’t discriminate between Shojo and Shonen):

1) Get into the main plot right away; no slow development *yawn* (e.g.) In DMC, Negishi was already in the band by Chapter 1, rather than us having to read about how he got there, who cares?!

2) Quirks: I like the characters to be anything but the cookie cutter manga cutouts in most mainstream manga. I am the type of reader who will accept anyone no matter how crazy or different they are.

3) An element that sets it apart from all other manga. It could be anything: endearing characters, creative situations, quirks, anything that will help me remember it long after the first read-thru. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just original in some way, or even unoriginal as long as it has something that sets it apart.

I am willing to give any title a try since I’ve had great experiences with all different types of manga, whether it’s Shojo, Shonen, Seinen, or Josei. Dig deep because I’ll read it even it’s obscure *(but still something in print, please) Go nuts!!

Okay, so here’s my challenge to you:

1) Romantic though not necessarily romance

2) Crisp art

3) Thought-provoking

Here’s some of my manga backgorund to help you tailor.

I loved Emma, the first six volumes of Death Note, and Otomo’s Domu. I really enjoyed the one volume of Oishinbo (the one on saké) even though I loathed the character art (backgrounds and food items were fine).

I like Naruto as it’s pretty much just a basket of fun, but I want a conclusion to my stories. If I really want the interminable spinning of wheels, I could just start reading Spider-Man again.

Art is important to me. As far as the manga I’ve tried, there are a number of styles I’ve enjoyed (the confident variation of line width I’ve seen in Negima and Clamp’s Tsubasa—I’ve only read the first volume of Tsubasa and don’t know if the stories any good, as I didn’t want to start another series with no end). I loved the art in Walking Man and reading it was a thoroughly pleasant experience. I like the faux-manga/vaguely chibi style of The Clarence Principle. I picked up Kare Kano because I loved the anime His & Her Circumstance and wanted a real conclusion instead of what the anime did; I only have the one volume because I didn’t like the art. I’d probably enjoy a lot of shojo manga save for the fact that so much of what I’ve encountered uses this wispy/ephemeral line style that I just find repulsive. Emma was a godsend in this respect. Also, while I like some of Tezuka’s stories, I hate his art.

My wife and I have been reading Negima and despite the weird (to me) fan-service-ness, I love a number of aspects to the story. Once one gets past the second volume, a rich story comes to life. The characters, who initially just mostly seemed like an opportunity for the artist to hump the leg of some nippleless boob god, have largely grown into individuals and have developed a level of complexity in their relationships and motivations. I’m a hopeless romantic and so just like I hoped so desperately for the kids in Avatar: The Last Airbender to have satisfying conclusions to their romantic arcs, I feel the same about these characters.

Some anime I liked were The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (minus the senseless conclusion), 5 Centimeters Per Second, Cowboy Bebop, Ai Yori Aoshi (the episodes focusing on Aoi and Kaoru, the rest were trash), and pretty much anything by Satoshi Kon.

So I don’t know if that helps or hinders, but there it is ^_^


Alright, I have two challenges for you.

First of all, myself. I’ve read quite a bit of manga, but I’m curious what you’ll find for me, and whether it’s something I’ve already read. So here are three things I like in stories :

– Dual (or multiple) identities. The most common examples of this is when a character is a spy and goes around incognito or a girl is trying to pass as a guy, however I am open to any variation. I of course love the moment when a character’s “cover” identity is blown. But this type of story is most satisfying to me when the alter-ego is something more than a disguise – when it is an expression of the character him/herself, and a source of conflict.

– Death of major characters. When executed well, I think “everybody dies” is a great ending. However, even the death of one or two major characters is pretty satisfying. And I dislike cheating in this regard. If a character comes back from the death, there had better be a better reason than it would have been too sad if that character had died. That said, with strong justification, I also like seeing major characters return from death. Getting permanently handicapped can also be very powerful, and it’s sometimes better if the character survives to deal with the handicap.

– The personal and the greater society converge. The easiest way to do this is to have a story about a royal family, and their personal matters tend to have a great impact on society. Both the characters and the world they inhabit must undergo change, political, social, environmental, etc (this is the main reason why Nana, much as I enjoy it, is not one of my top favorites). A lot of things can satisfy this. For example, in From Eroica With Love, it’s the Cold War and satirical political commentary which fills this in, and in Glass Mask, it’s the greater world of theatre/film which functions as the “world” the characters live in that transforms.

So yeah, I’m very curious what you’ll find for me.

Then there’s my dad. He loves Japan. He knows some Japanese. He considers the years he spent in Japan as the best years of his youth. In spite of this, and in spite of repeated attempts on my part, he does not like manga. So I asked him three things he likes about storytelling, and he said


He does like a few anime, including They Were Eleven (though he has never expressed interest in reading the manga). Of course, one reason he occasionally tries anime is that it gives him a chance to find out how much Japanese he remembers. Currently, he has my copy of volume 1 of 20th Century Boys, which as far as I know he hasn’t even tried.

I look forward to your reply.

Hey I like manga series that is not too cliche, has a strong female character is not smutty or overly romantic (if theres romance then the charcters get together) , doesn’t drag on, is not too childish or girly or bloody or creepy, and it doesn’t drag on and on.

Sara — heh. Lots of challenges here. I’m going in order but for the people that have given me more than one challenge I’ll pick out one and then save their others for another round.

I hope to get to your (& your Dad’s!) challenges soon, but I’ll just hint “Ooku” for your challenge. Look it up for now but I hope to recommend it more formally soon!


I know that doesn’t narrow the field a ton. If it helps, I’d be looking for the manga Love & Rockets. Who pushed the field forward? What series redefined art or writing? Which series does things with the medium that are surprising?

It’s very cool that you’re doing this. I haven’t read much manga (Lone Wolf & Cub, Akira, some Ranma 1/2 and Blade of the Immortal although I grew bored with the latter), and will be looking at your recommendations with interest. Thanks!

I want something with nice artwork, and a good storyline. I like comedy/cute romance. Some of the series I like are Kamichama Karin and Kamichama Karin Chu, Fruits Basket, Full Moon o Sagashite, The Gentlemen’s Alliance, Mamotte! Lollipop, Honey Hunt, Love*Com and Kitchen Princess.

I would dearly love some reccs if you have the time and inclination towards a mostly lurker.

In order of adoration:

I adore HunterxHunter.

I liked the first volumes of BLEACH (I’m actually still watching BLEACH anime in 10 episode bursts). But I really liked the initial story about an unusual boy, with an unusual talent trying to balance his various obligations.

I like Kekkaishi, Amatsuki and Manhou Sensei Negima!

I liked the first volumes of Death Note (when it was about L vs Light).

I recently discovered Gyakusou Shojo and am on page 3 or so of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.

I am also devouring The Hour Of The Mice.

I cannot decide whether or not I like Leviathan (I think I don’t) and at some point I got bored with Monster and just stopped reading.

Oh and my baby sister of all people convinced me I really would like Fruits Basket and I’m extremely surprised that I do.

Hmm what else can I add. Sisters of Wellber and Corpse Princess are both animes that hooked for the strong relationship between female characters. I think of such friendships as rare and would love to find more.

Finally artwise, I am picky. I can handle reading either left to right or right to left. What I can’t handle is messy panels; either abstract drawing styles or abstract presentation. If five different things are on the page, I want them in five different boxes, contained. I don’t want a mural to study in the middle of reading my story.

Ah. Not Corpse Princess. MURDER Princess.

Corpse Princess gave me a headache.

MarkAndrew….you could say that. Um. Sure! Go ahead and say that! ;-)

Wow, this sounds like fun, huh? Okay. Keeping with the three words theme…

1: Mystery (A favorite genre of mine)
2: Challenging (The best kind are the ones that demand I pay attention to the little details and use my imagination to figure it out)
3: Intelligent (well written, needs to be actually solvable. No cheats to get the solution)

Outside the three words, it’s really help if the recommendations steered away from more supernatural elements. The more realistic the world (but not necessarily the characters, because, let’s face it, it’s manga. Nobody’s totally normal in manga) , the better.

(bows respectfully) Thank you for your time.

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