Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Top 5 Favorite Manga

Recently I have told you about my favorite anime series and now I would to tell you about my favorite manga. You see, the anime series are usually meant for a wider audience, so many-many times they actually change the story arc of the characters to make it kid-friendly. There are several that I grew up on and then later found out that the manga is about twenty times harsher and sadder - but at the same time also more compelling. It's like they gave me an adult story with the characters I grew up with and it simple added a little extra to it. I really love to read manga, but I decided to tell you about only five because these have a special place in my heart still and they all mark a certain period in my life. Let's get down to it, shall we?

5) Rave

I remember when I saw the first number at the newspaper stand. This was at the time when I watched One Piece everyday after school and I was excited to read about a new journey. I fell in love with the story right away. It tells the tale of Haru Glory, a teenager who embarks on the quest to find the five pieces of the sacred stone Rave in order to bring peace to the world by defeating the criminal group Demon Card. He makes friends along the way and as he gets closer to the end of his quest, he gets stronger. But he couldn't do without the help of his team! Really the story is basically an RPG game in manga version, but the characters are very lovable and the drawing style completely mesmerized me! It was a really fun read.

4) Kodocha No Omocha

This was actually a kind of trauma to me as a kid. You see, the cartoon is about young love, the main character is a Sana, a child actress who has to balance school and work. She falls in love with a bad tempered boy in her class, Akito. Akito evolves into a better person through his love toward Sana. This all adds up to the anime, but then things went a bit south... Akito makes an enemy of a teacher of theirs and he starts ignoring school while Sana is away for work. Also, he finds out that a boy has been idolizing him and after realizing that Akito never noticed him, he contemplates suicide, only to be saved by Akito.
This is to the cost of an almost fatal injury, as the boy says that Akito has to die with him, and the latter gives him a chance to kill, but he misses. He does, however, plunge a blade into Akito's arm, and he almost loses half of his blood supply before reaching the hospital. This alone is quite dark, but the story doesn't end here! Sana has been suffering from a disease that her mother calls 'doll syndrome'. During which she is completely incapable of expressing any kind of emotion. The symptoms of the disease present themselves when it turns out that Akito's father is going to take him away to America, where a renowned doctor will help him recover the use of the injured arm. The thought of losing her only love leaves Sana sick for quite some time. Unwilling to depart, the two run away together, only to be discovered a few days later and taken back home. Sana gets better and Akito leaves. The manga ends with Akito visiting back home, completely cured, and with a bigger heart than before, all for Sana. The story is really beautiful, and there are actually plenty more parts of it that I'd rather not disclose, but after singing the jingle by heart for years I was literally shocked to find out what the manga had held all along. And the thing that got me hooked is actually that neither of the characters ever has to utter the words 'I love you' for the reader to believe that they were meant to be together forever! This manga is a very big part of my life because I feel that I have learned more about people in general than I ever did before.

3) Slam Dunk

I always loved basketball, but this series is the thing that really marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship between me and an actual basketball. I have watched the anime, but after having missed several episodes, I decided to start reading the manga.
In the end I preferred the ending that the manga revealed a lot more than the anime. Our main character is Hanamichi Sakuragi, a bad tempered and rude boy who joins his high school's basketball team in the hopes of getting a date with a very lovely girl. His temper pretty much gets him into trouble every single time, but it is also the reason that drives a couple of old players of the team back to the gym - as they are practically bullied into it. The story ends gloriously, as our team becomes the National Champion and Sakuragi discovers a true love for basketball. For Hanamichi in the anime basketball simply becomes part of his everyday routine, something he won't do without. In the manga it becomes something he can't do without - and yet he has an injury to his spine at their last game and he is forced to retire from sports for the rest of his life. The manga ends with him in physical therapy, reading a letter of that girl he loved so much, who during their travel to the championship became his best friend. The author very cleverly made the reader fall in love with the feeling that comes with loving and living a sport. Then, he took it away. Which, in my opinion, portrays life perfectly!

2) Marmalade Boy

Admittedly the story here is basically identical, the anime although has several other characters involved in the love story of Miki and Yuu. The parents of these two meet during a vacation, fall in love, get divorced and decided to change partners, forcing Miki and Yuu under one roof where they all plan to live happily ever after. Let alone the fact that the children are sure they are insane, they commit the mistake of falling in love with one another. That is when things get really complicated... Yuu has been hiding a secret from all of his family.
He found a letter that his grandmother wrote to his father, where she reveals that Yuu is someone else's child. Yuu goes crazy over trying to find out who his actual father is only to discover that their parents knew each other in college. He comes to the conclusion that he and Miki share their biological father. Incapable of telling her the truth, he breaks up with Miki claiming that he doesn't love her anymore and he moves away to give her time to heal. It is no use as none of them are capable of moving on. Miki goes after Yuu to at least get an explanation, where he tells her the truth. Miki asks Yuu that they spend one short holiday together before having to move on, where they can pretend one last time that they can be together forever. The night ends with the two in each others' arms. They realize that even if they can't have children, even if the won't be able to get married legally, they simply cannot live without each other. They tell their parents that their little secret has been discovered and that they will not break-up, no matter what. Yuu's father gets up and slaps him across the face for never telling him about finding the letter. They tell them that yes, indeed his mother was pregnant with Miki's father's child - she, however, over the pain of the break-up suffered a miscarriage. Yuu was born years after that, and he is not Miki's brother. The revelation that they can be together after all leaves them with such an ecstatic feeling that all seems to fall into place. I always loved how love could overcome anything, and I was especially happy when incest wasn't an issue anymore. I love this manga!

1) City Hunter

There is a movie version of this manga, where Jackie Chan played the main character. The movie played on the comedic element of the manga and it got that dead on. It did, however, leave out the serious stuff and it is that that got me hooked. Ryo Saeba is a sweeper in Shinjuku, where he is known as City Hunter. He does all sorts of jobs, but only for female customers. His past finds him one day, when his partner Makimura is killed. He takes it upon himself to take care of his little sister Kaori. She becomes his new partner, he, however, doesn't teach her how to shoot or to kill.
Kaori always perceived this as a sign of distrust - especially when years go by with her loving him madly and him running after other women. She has a constant fear that he will tell her off one day, if he finds a better partner. On the other hand, Ryo feels that he owes Makimura and he mustn't drag Kaori even deeper into his world, not even giving a chance for her to choose. All things change when an old friend of Ryo's appears - Mitch - with the task of killing him. Mitch is known for stealing his target's lover so that when the target dies, the women don't cry. He ends up falling for Kaori, without being able to shake her from her state of fondness toward Ryo. Mitch refuses to kill Ryo after being unable to get Kaori and that gets him killed. The person who originally hired Mitch is a man, a drug lord who Ryo considered to be his father for years. He nourished him, taught him about arms, wars, he cared for him and now he has come back to take his life as payment. Mitch being only one of the many people Ryo could loose, he sets out to kill his father to save Kaori. After years the two finally commit to each other, reveal their feelings and show signs of actual commitment. Kaori, however, gets amnesia and when her memory comes back she stays quiet about it, disappointed that Ryo made no effort in reminding her about what happened. Knowing, however, that he loves her nonetheless brings them together again.
This manga was written a long-long time ago, and yet I re-read it every year. I just can't get enough of it. It is currently being reprinted in Italy and it costs a lot - but I will get my hands on all of them! You just wait! Let alone the detective stories and the incredible charming characters, I love this manga because it lets me dream. I could imagine that I was the partner of the person who takes down bad guys, who helps the police when others aren't looking; I could be the person who knows guns like the back of their hand and handle people like I've known them all of their lives. Most of all learned from Kaori: The love, that this girl has, for this idiot? Unparalleled. She never doubts him and she is never disappointed. They have a special bond that becomes obvious to anyone who crosses their path. And even if you don't care for the gun part and the detective part - these characters are so down to Earth that you are amazed by the similarities between your everyday and theirs'! There was something fantastic about this manga that has never been replicated.
The author has another series, Angel Heart, which plays in another universe where Kaori dies on the day of their wedding and her heart is transplanted into a young assassin - Shan-In - trying to escape her organization. She finds Ryo and he takes her in as his child, as she has been deprived of a normal life due to being trained as an assassin. This manga is also very beautiful, but Kaori being my favorite character, I can't help, but miss her presence from every single page. She is in a way still part of the story, as her death defines the character changes that were made to Ryo; also Shan-In announces proudly to anyone that her mother's heart is beating in her, as she becomes a better person because of it. Still, I miss her. I think I'm going to go and read the manga all over again!

So, these are my favorite manga, what are yours? Let me know in the comments below!
Until the next item on my list!


  1. I am so happy I came across your blog! I am also very fond of city hunter. I have only read some of the manga, because all of it has not been translated to English :-( The characters puzzle me and I am really sort of obsessed to have some answers. As you say the writer gives us so many hints and signs and glimps of how and what the main characters think, but not the solution or the happy ending you are waiting for. I have read how the mange end and I have also seen all the animation that exists. But I still have this annoying unsatisfied itchy feeling because the ending does not conclude the relationship between Kaori and Ryo. I just wished the writer would write a conclusion and satisfy the female audience. The way he draws and tells this story fascinates me to the extreme!!! I have tried to search for interviews with Tsukasa Hojo, just to find out why he does not give us this conclusion and also who in real life inspired him to create such character like Ryo. How he created him and his research.

    1. The author continued it in Angel Heart, have you read it? It gives a sad but definite answer to the question of their relationship!