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Five for Friday #13: Manga/Pulp
posted January 21, 2005

Five Manga Titles You've Enjoyed Simply for Enjoyment's Sake

Akira by Katsushiro Otomo
Hell Baby by Hideshi Hino
Lone Wolf and Cub by Kazuo Koike
Hikaru no Goby Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata
Sanctuary by Sho Fumimura and Ryoichi Ikegami

Other Lists and Responses


Nick Mullins

Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki
Black & White by Taiyo Matsumoto
No. 5 by Taiyo Matsumoto
Planetes by Makoto Yukimura
Uzumaki by Junji Ito


Shaenon Garrity

Like there's any other kind. Seriously, are there a lot of manga you've been enjoying for their unflinching penetration into the darkness of the human soul?

1. Black Jack, by Osamu Tezuka. Even Tezuka's "serious" manga is solid pulp entertainment, but for pure fun, you want a mysterious and heroic surgeon operating on himself in the middle of the Australian outback while surrounded by ravenous dingos. This is arguably the most popular of Tezuka's work in Japan, but sadly overlooked here.

2. From Eroica with Love, by Yasuko Aoike. A shojo classic from the 1970s about a flamboyant, decadent gentleman art thief (physically modeled, I kid you not, after Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin) who conducts daring robberies by blimp and flirts with the stoic but coolly handsome German officer bent on his apprehension. Holy shit, Japanese women are nuts.

3. One Piece, by Eiichiro Oda. When I was editing this series for Shonen Jump, I grew increasingly amazed by Oda's control of his craft; he has a natural, playful mastery of the often restrictive weekly-manga format. There are interesting things going on deep in the narrative structure of One Piece. But mostly it's about a stretchy pirate. It's also worth sticking through to the later volumes to see just how crazy and Peter Max-y the art gets.

4. Peach Girl, by Miwi Ueda. Possibly the most baldly entertaining comic I've ever read. Utterly frothy high-school fluff about adorable Momo (who thinks she's unfairly treated as an airhead because her deep tan makes her look like one of those trendy Shibuya girls, never considering that maybe it's because she's actually an airhead), her tractable love interests, and her backstabbing friend Sae. Sae is the real draw here; she's pure evil.

5. Eagle, by Kaiji Kawaguchi. A Japanese take on the American presidential elections, Eagle manages to be alternately ridiculous and unnervingly perceptive. The political stuff is absorbing, and there's plenty of Tom Clancy-ish melodrama thrown in to keep the cliffhangers coming. As editor Carl Horn has pointed out, fictional candidate Ken Yamaoka has a background remarkably similar to John Kerry's, which means that Kerry is some Japanese guy's notion of ideal presidential material. Probably explains a lot, somehow.

Runners-Up: Paradise Kiss, Uzumaki, Excel Saga, and Maison Ikkoku, all of which are vastly entertaining for vastly different reasons.


Robert Boyd

Planetes by Makoto Yukimura
Blue Spring by Taiyo Matsumoto
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hiyao Miyazaki
Parasyte by Hitosi Iwaaki
Doing Time by Kazuichi Hanawa


Chris Butcher

What's Michael?, by Makoto Kobayashi (I never really 'got' it until I got a cat. Now I find it spooky.)
Akira, by Katsuhiro Otomo
Division Chief Kosaku Shima, by Kenshi Hirokane
Short Cuts, by Usamaru Furuya
Heartbroken Angels, by Masahiko Kikuni


Jonathan Ellis

Iron Wok Jan by Shinji Saijyo is by far my favourite book currently on stands
Bremen by Umezawa Haruto has yet to be published in English but I'm betting it'll be a hot book once it's released in North America - it's got the sexy glam style of The Invisibles but it's about a rock band as they strive to be the best
Zetman by Katsura Masakazu is another 'yet to be translated' title that is simply an engrossing read, very much not what you'd expect since the concept has changed since the original short stories that introduced the character were published before the serialized story currently coming out
Lone Wolf and Cub as you mentioned is entertaining, smart, extremely well-executed and at times is quite simply poetic
Also - anything from FanFare/PonentMon these days is gold - Most notable for having published Yukiko's Spinach, The Walking Man and Doing Time


T Hodler

Akira by Katsushiro Otomo
Hell Baby by Hideshi Hino
Lone Wolf and Cub by Kazuo Koike
Hikaru no Go by Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata
Sanctuary by Sho Fumimura and Ryoichi Ikegami

This seems like a good list to me, though I haven't read the last two. In their place, I'd include two manga that definitely should not be overlooked: Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and probably the greatest cooking battle comic of all time, Shinji Saiyo's Iron Wok Jan!


Chris Cilla

I like this reader participation list thing that you're doing. It's an interesting notion, titles enjoyed for enjoyment's sake, but I think I "get it". I'd exclude Osamu Tezuka, putting his stuff in a bigger excellent solid reading entertainment category with Carl Barks & Herge. I'd also put Hideshi Hino, Junji Ito, & Suehiro Maruo in some other special list of favorites, but they're almost too creepy to be a simple enjoyment. I shelve Manga at my bookstore job, & most of it looks uninteresting, just like Marvel & Vertigo comics, etc. but anyhow here's that list:

1. What's Michael by Kobayashi Makoto
2. Bakune Young by Toyokazu Matsunaga
3. Short Cuts by Usamaru Furuya
4. Battle Royale by Koshun Takami & Masayuki Taguchi
5. Tuxedo Gin by Tokihiko Matsuura

Thanks for your enjoyable website, a must read.