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Matthew E. (who might hate me just a little) wrote, “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.”
Because Matthew gave no indication that he’s read any manga at all I decided to offer recommendations of fairly well known titles to help him get his feet “wet” with stories I feel are very friendly to the American comic book reader.
1. Slam Dunk, by Takehike Inoue, published by Viz.
Description by publisher: Basketball. The court, the ball, the hoop. The hopes, the dreams, the sweat. It takes dedication and discipline to be the best, and the Shohoku High hoops team wants to be just that—the best. They have one last year to make their captain’s dream of reaching the finals come true—will they do it? Takehiko Inoue’s legendary basketball manga is finally here, and the tale of a lifetime is in your hands!
Sakuragi Hanamichi’s got no game with girls—none at all! It doesn’t help that he’s known for throwing down at a moment’s notice and always coming out on top. A hopeless bruiser, he’s been rejected by 50 girls in a row! All that changes when he meets the girl of his dreams, Haruko, and she’s actually not afraid of him! When she introduces him to the game of basketball, his life is changed forever…
2. Planetes, Makoto Yukimura, published by Tokyopop.
Description by publishers: In the 2070’s, mankind has established a mining base on the moon and dispatched men to explore Mars. The first manned mission to Jupiter is also in progress. As a result of this interplanetary activity, space debris is increasing and its collection has become a new profession.
In the 1st volume of Makoto Yukimura’s Planetes, we meet Yuri, Hachimaki, and Fee. Hachimaki’s dream is to buy his own spaceship. He thinks he can earn money quickly by joining the crew of the first expedition to Jupiter. Yuri lost his wife in a space travel accident, and became a debris collector out of a desperate desire to discover some remembrance of her. Fee takes great pride in her profession and works very hard, having left behind her husband and young son on earth.
In a dark and cruel universe, each of these space junkers grapples with his or her own personal problems.
3. Bleach, by Tite Kubo, published by Viz.
Description by publisher: Bleach tells the story of Ichigo Kurosaki, who is just like any other ordinary 15-year-old high school student — except for his special ability to see ghosts. So when a teenage girl materializes through his bedroom wall, it should be no call for alarm. However, this girl, named Rukia, is a shinigami (Soul Reaper) who is hunting a Hollow (an evil spirit that consumes souls). The Hollow proceeds to attack Ichigo’s family and Rukia is badly wounded. In order to defeat the evil spirit, Rukia must let Ichigo temporarily become a Soul Reaper by absorbing some of her energy. However, Ichigo inadvertently ends up with all of Rukia’s powers and after defeating the Hollow, she informs Ichigo that since she has relinquished all her powers, he must now take on all the responsibilities of a Soul Reaper until she can figure out how to get her powers back. Now this 15-year-old high school student begins a brand new vocation as a hyperkinetic, all-purpose ghost buster. With enough attitude to make a grown demon blush, Ichigo and crew are cleaning up the afterlife, one ghoul at a time.
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