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Manga Before Flowers — Recommendation Post #5

Joe gave me three words, “Giant Robots.  Adventure.  Optimism.”  It’s actually the word “Optimism” that makes this one a challenge (you can find plenty of depressing stories about giant robots but optimistic ones?  Not so easy).

In the end, I went to Jason Thompson’s wonderful Manga: The Complete Guide for inspiration — although I’m familiar with each of the anime franchises these manga are based on, I should note that I have not read these titles.  However, each was given at least 2.5 to 3.5 stars out of a total of four stars in Thompson’s guide book which is good enough for me.

Finally, I want to thank Michelle Smith (see her helpful manga reviews here) for literally being a resource (she’s practically a database of manga titles unto herself) I’ve been drawing on as I continue to work on these specialized manga recommendation posts.  Don’t blame her, though, for some of my more crack-ish choices.  She’s just been kind enough to come along for the ride and volunteer a number of very helpful suggestions.

1. Eureka Seven, by Jinsei Kataoka & Kazama Kondou, published by Bandai.

eureka 7

Description by publisher: Renton Thurston’s a young 14-year-old who is tired of his monotonous life. The only thing that makes him happy is when he “lifts,” an extreme form of aerial hoverboarding. His feelings of frustration come from his life of toil in his Grandfather’s garage and being the son of an enigmatic yet legendary “hero.” One day, a large LFO (Light Finding Operation) craft called Nirvash falls from the sky and a beautiful young girl named Eureka emerges and asks for repairs. When a smitten Renton literally falls over himself to help her, the two begin a journey that will change both of their destinies.

2.  Mobile Police Patlabor, Masami Yuki, published by Viz Media (Only 2 volumes published in the U.S.).


Description by publisher: In this adventure story, the brave rookies of Patlabor Section Two begin their training. On their first mission in the field, the squad finds itself up against a terrorist Labor (a humanoid robot) rampaging in Tokyo while the media, the police, and the world watch!

3.  Mobile Suit Gundam: Ecole du Ciel, by Haruhiko Mikimoto, published by Tokyopop.

mobile suit

Description by publisher: Ecole du Ciel where aspiring pilots train to become Top Gundam! Year is 0085 of the Universal Century. Daughter of a brilliant professor, Asuna is a below-average student at Ecole du Ciel. But with the world spiraling toward war, Asuna is headed for a crash course in danger, battle, and most of all, love… Set in the original Gundam universe, renowned artist Haruhiko Mikimoto has created the perfect series for anyone who hasn’t yet been introduced to the wonderful world of mobile suits!


Oh man, Patlabor. That’s a flash from the past. The first movie was FANTASTIC!!
I didn’t know they published some manga in North America. Cool.

Mario — sadly, Viz only published the first two volumes of Patlabor but the films are so highly thought of I couldn’t resist.

Thank you for the thank you! I’m happy to help!

And here I go chiming in about Eureka Seven! I’ve been wondering whether this series is any good, chiefly because the six-volume series has just been or will soon be released in two omnibus editions. That’s a pretty substantial savings, especially if you get them at Amazon. I’m always a sucker for the prospect of quickly and easily owning all of something (though, of course, there’s a 2-volume prequel called Eureka Seven: Gravity Boys & Lifting Girl, not to mention a few novels) but I’ve been restraining myself ‘cos I wasn’t sure I’d like it.

Here are the omnibi on Amazon:

Volume 1 Manga Collection – released October 28, 2009
Volume 2 Manga Collection – to be released on December 29, 2009

I guess I’m off to see what Jason Thompson says about it!

Just out of curiosity, how many stars was given to each series?

I’ve only caught pieces of the Patlabor movie, but I’ve heard great things.
I didn’t know that Eureka Seven was adapted into a manga (or was it the other way around?).
And I’ve yet to see a Gundam series in which I was disappointed with the mech designs, but it’s hard to screw up when the originals they’re based off of are so amazing.

Yeah, I figured “optimism” would give you a hard time. But it’s so easy to be pessimistic that I prefer my literature to at least hint at some optimism. Be happy I replaced “surrealism” with “adventure.” I was almost cruel enough to go that route.

You’ll be happy to know, Danielle, that I’m doing my own footwork now and even if it weren’t for Michelle posting, I would have realized that Eureka Seven is a complete series (and one that looks interesting!).

Complete side note: I just read the atrociously titled Town of Evening Wind, Country of Cherry Blossoms and put it in the top four books (not just comics, but books) I’ve read in 2009. I only mention it because it was in your column that i saw the cover art and it was that memory that made me pick it up when I saw it in the library. So thanks!

I love Eureka Seven. I discovered it when the anime was on Adult Swim and only recently managed to get copies of the manga. Awesome stuff.

Surprised Gurren Lagann isn’t in here.

the manga for Lagann pales to the anime

Leetard and Okman — I’ve heard a hard time with the Gurren Lagann anime. The first disc gave me a headache and I’ve been a little hesitant to watch more (I know that it is very well received (anime not manga) so I’ll try again, perhaps when I get can my hands on the dub, which will be easier on my head).

Joe — I think it is the “giant” in “giant robot” + “optimism” that makes it hard. If it were just about human-like robots that would have had a larger number of titles to pull from.

Mario — Eureka 7 (2.5 stars), Mobile Police Patlabor (3 stars), Mobile Suit Gundam: Ecole du Ciel (3.5 stars).

Joe – Jason Thompson mentioned that the Eureka Seven manga simplified things from the anime, particularly in terms of fleshing out the world the characters inhabit, so it seems the original format is the animated one. Well, there’s video games, too, and they perhaps came first. I’m not really sure about that. :)

I’d say the problem with finding giant robot manga to recommend is that it’s really a genre that’s at home in anime, not manga. Maybe it’s easier to make the sense of scale work there (or maybe it sells the model robots better…)

James — Good point. I don’t think it is an accident that all the manga I picked were based off / linked to anime franchises.

Yeah, I was kinda wondering about that myself with the link to giant robot anime and manga. Part of the reason I chose that was to see if there were any good original manga with giant robots. Well, I KNOW there are at least some in Japan (can’t remember any of the names of the books I saw while there) but apparently not any translated into English.

[…] Danielle Leigh’s latest recommendation post, she picks three manga based on the keywords “giant robots, adventure, and optimism.” […]

Astro Boy.

Seriously, what the heck? It’s primacy in this category is only outdone by it’s obscurity among American readers.

Hi Milo, I don’t consider “Astro” himself a giant robot (i.e. the like the mobile suit kind) which is what I thought Joe was asking for. Otherwise that would have been on the list.

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