Here’s what was originally supposed to be a Top Anime list. Initially I’d had an anime list that was about ready to be published but I seem to have forgotten to save that draft. Having that happen sorta killed my motivation to get it done. For now I’ve compiled a much simpler list of my favourite manga titles instead. Having not indulged in as many manga titles as I have anime, this list will be much smaller then my top anime list, but it should still give you a good idea of what my taste in storytelling sorta looks like. Feel free to talk about what’s in this list and whatever manga titles you feel are amazing. Or you can just cuss me out for having bad taste. It’s all up to you 🙂
10: Prison School
Given that I caught up with this series not too long ago, I’m sure recency bias has at least something to do with this placement. That said I’ve never really gotten into a high school setting ecchi title before, and after the high bar set by this series, I doubt I will ever again. Most crappy fanservice titles rely on trite sex gags like accidental groping or voyeurism and don’t do enough else to differentiate themselves from each other. Prison School takes this awkward school of humor and goes much much farther with it then anything I’ve seen before and does it in such a delightfully self serious manner that I can’t help but be enthralled by it. As a comedy it displays a good amount of emotional depth and the thought processes beneath its absurd display of sexual situations. Also worth mentioning is the artwork, which is fantastic in the sort of way that makes a lot of gags work well when they otherwise wouldn’t (plus the girls are hot). All this picks this series up out of a pile of uniform mediocrity.
9: Shadow Star (Narutaru)
There’s little doubt in my mind that Mohiro Kitoh is a bizarre, cruel writer. It takes the whole “cute kids and monsters” angle throws pretty much everyone involved into a whole gamut of uncomfortable situations and trauma that rots’ em to the core. Probably too excessively grimdark for some tastes, but I’m not one of those people it seems. It’s about as close as a “kids with pet monsters” series has come to capturing the appeal of the likes Neon Genesis Evangelion and it’s downward spiral-like character arcs and crazy fucked up finale. Hoping it holds up to a reread.
8: Fullmetal Alchemist:
If it wasn’t for the overall consistent fun provided by the title at the top of the list. I wouldn’t hesitate call Fullmetal Alchemist my favorite shonen manga of all time. It’s an epic, grand scale story that snowballs from the humble quest of two brothers attempting to right their past wrongs. What we have here is a balanced tale with no shortage of action, philosophy, drama and adventure. It does let itself down by having an uninspired by-the-books finish, but theirs no doubting the quality of the journey from me.
Please support the official release of Fullmetal Alchemist
7: GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka):
Imagine this: What if there was a teacher out there that went ahead and decided forgo all convention? What if he had his own way of looking out for his pupils that didn’t include a load of meaningless information they’ll forget anyway and doesn’t necessarily always line-up with the law? How about if he was the sort of guy who’d do literally anything to save his students from each other and/or themselves? Now imagine that he somehow didn’t get fired for public nudity, property destruction, assault, etc. That’s what you get with GTO. This is series that goes beyond the typical “inspirational teacher” premise since it actually dares to keep it’s characters interesting even after they’ve been reformed by Onizuka’s unconventional “teaching”. It’s often far too ridiculous to take entirely seriously, but that’s really more of a strength more often then not since this series is just that damn funny to read/watch. Yeah, that’s really what I value most about this thing. GTO is just really fucking funny.
Please support the official release of GTO (seriously the online scans are awful)
If you read this and never crack a smile, then you proably have a heart of concrete. Simply put it’s a series that hovers a magnifying lens across a bunch of the joys (and some of the terrors) that come with being a kid in a way that appeals to me by being more then just funny. It’s innocent enough to be appropriate for all ages, but it’s the type of series you’d likely appreciate more with age. The more older and jaded we become, the easier it is to forget the silly little joys of life. Yotsuba&! is a reminder.
Also fuck Yanda, don’t let him in.
Please support the official release of Yotsuba&!
5: Gunslinger Girl:
Now here’s one I certainly wasn’t expecting to like, forget love. Gunslinger Girl starts strong, but slow, as an excellent as a character-based story before moving on to a more urgent plot-line after making sure that it’s cast is thoroughly established. What surprises me most about Gunslinger Girl is how easily it could’ve gone down a more emotionally manipulative path, whilst dropping obvious morality bombs. Instead, concepts of “morality” only serve as occasional reminders that the adults at the Social Welfare Agency aren’t always cynical bastards. The cast as a whole starts off as being somewhat cold and distant, however as Yu Aida drops bit and pieces of each individual’s backdrop/motivation their behaviour is contextualized (but not necessarily excused). It’s the sort of writing that earns it’s emotional responses, something I wish more writers would learn how to do.
Please support the official release of Gunslinger Girl
4: 20th Century Boys
20th Century Boys has flaws. It tries too often to build tension by transitioning scenes right before every major event, the plot twists have a habit of ravaging one’s suspense of disbelief, the antagonist is nowhere near as interesting towards the end, yet I loved any how since beyond those issues is a epic scaled tale built by a huge, thoroughly explored and varied cast of individuals. This series is pretty much unrivalled when it comes to giving the perfect amount of time developing each character before jumping on to the next. There’s a crap-ton of plot threads in 20thCB and none of them feel like they were a waste. It’s a goddamn busy series that would’ve topped this list easily if it weren’t few a few late game trip-ups.
Please support the official release of 20th Century Boys
3: Battle Angel Alita/Gunnm
I loved pretty much everything about Battle Angel Alita. I loved seeing Alita’s extensive personal growth from a wide eyed amnesiac cyborg, to a hardened bounty hunter who occasionally screws up and loses sight of that which is really important to her. The actual story itself covers a great range of themes regarding morality, technology and Ghost In The Shell-esque transhumanism and does so at a great pace. The series never relinquishes entertainment for the sake of being smart since the action is abundant, bloody and always satisfying. I need to see a proper anime of this before I depart from this worldly realm. Jojo and Parasyte got dusted off, can’t this series get that treatment too? Those OVAs don’t cut it.
Please support the official release of Battle Angel Alita
2: Phoenix/Hi no Tori
Hi no Tori has an unfortunate history as it is one of the few titles to be cut short by the death of it’s author, the illustrious “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka. As sad as that may be, what Tezuka managed to accomplish with these 12 volumes is astounding. There is nothing remotely close to an overall plot in a conventional sense. Instead it’s simply a tale of the endless cycle of death & rebirth throughout the Universe as overseen by the titular, immortal Phoenix, whose blood imparts immortality upon all those who drink it. The wide variety within the multiple settings allows for a very eclectic and ends up seeming very Twilight Zone-like. I’m not really quite sure how to sum up why I like this thing so much in one paragraph besides saying it just really has a special way of getting me to “think” so to speak. It’s a saga that’s about as fascinating and unpredictable as the nature represented in it.
If you need anything to hook you right away, read “The Future” or “Ho-Oh” volumes, as these are commonly regarded as the best and for good reason.
Please support the official release of Phoenix
1: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Of all the manga I’ve seen, none have allowed me to peer into the mind of a thoroughly demented writer in all the right ways. It takes the classic 80s shounen popularized by Hokuto no Ken, injects it’s own specific brand of nasty humor/horror and continually escalates it’s own batshit insanity over the course of 100+ volumes. Although the series eventually adopts it’s own formula from arc 3 onwards, there’s more then enough variety in the cast and superpowers (ones that grow increasingly esoteric over time). It’s pulpy, it’s stylish, it’s got several varied casts of memorable characters, and most of all it’s the only 50+ volume series to keep my attention up for the whole run through (even the weaker arcs). It’s an enduring landmark series that I’m glad to flaunt for all eternity upon my banner.
Please support the official release of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure