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Year in Brief Review – Manga Favourites of 2010

It’s New Years Day! And that means the end of 2010 has come and gone – the end of the first decade of the 2000s’, the end of another year of fantastic comics (upon other many wonderful things).

Just for a little living in the past on this first day of 2011, what better time to look back at 2010 with some favourites, surprises, disappointments and neat website tidbits. Sure it would’ve made more sense to have posted yesterday but who has time with all those celebrations going on… right?

It’s been a fun year here at Kuriousity with all the writers contributing their own to the site. At the beginning of 2010, we also welcomed our newest reviewer Jaime Samms to the team who has been covering boys’ love light novels. Yay! Below are some of our top posts:

Most Popular Non-Review Posts in 2010:

Scanlation Sentiments: My Answers to Your Statements
No New Del Rey Titles After November 2010?
Tyrant Who Falls In Love Listed for OVA Release
Vertical Licenses Osamu Tezuka’s Ayako
VIZ Launching Digital Supplement for Shonen Jump Subscribers

Most Popular Review Posts in 2010:

Incubus Master (Part One)
Twilight the Graphic Novel (Vol. 01)
Pig Bride (Vol. 03)
Cute Devil
Your Love Sickness

Total Number of Posts: 406
Reviews Posted: 200

So in 365 days we managed to review 200 books, not too bad (and the exact number of reviews posted in 2009 as well). But, curious about what books came out in 2010? AnimeNewsNetwork has a handy list to show you just that. The list shows 997 manga titles out in 2010, not including manhwa (Korean) and manhua (Chinese) titles. That is a lot of books!

It’s so hard to pick favourites of anything (and I try my best to steer clear of the word ‘best’ because I think that’s pretty subjective person to person) but I did my best to select from the long list of books out this year which were the ones most memorable to me, for better or worse in some cases. I also restricted myself to only naming a particular series once so in a more accurate me-world there’d be a lot of overlap but for the sake of having a nice and varied list, one per subject it is:

Favourite Continuing-Through-2010-and-Beyond Series:

(6-Way Tie) Black Jack, Pet Shop of Horrors Tokyo, 20th Century Boys, Pokemon Adventures, Yotsuba&!, Bunny Drop – It’s far too difficult to choose a favourite series but these six are my top picks, the series that when a new volume comes out, I need it. Now. There’s a good bit of variety in the selection but all have a combination of great characters and complimenting artwork that I just can’t get enough of! All six series are currently on-going so for all the volumes I enjoyed of them in 2010, it’s great to know there’s even more coming in 2011.

Favourite Where-Have-You-Been-All-My-Life Series:

Ouran Host Club – I was lucky to find a set of volumes 1-15 for super cheap at my local comic store and as a huge fan of the anime, I had to finally pick this manga series up. I’ve been reading through it at a pretty quick pace this last week of 2010. I’m ten volumes in and loving it. It’s such a unique, fun and absolutely adorable series – I just want to hug every single character. I can’t wait to finish these volumes and await the new ones.

Favourite Tear-Jerker:

Pluto – And by favourite I mean only and by tear-jerker I mean of course it made me sad enough to cry, not to mention it’s depressing in itself having this series come to an end this year. This series had it all – suspense, drama, romance, angst, explosions and giant robots. Naoki Urasawa took the basics from Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy and made something really special, an eight volume manga I’d recommend to any reader (above the age of 16).

Favourite Purchase of the Year:

Cardcaptor Sakura OmnibusCardcaptor Sakura Omnibus (Vol. 01) – While reading this series wasn’t new to me, this re-release by Dark Horse was still one of my highlight purchases of the year. The quality of this book is incredible – from the sheer amount of pages you get, to the tweaked adaptation for more fluidity and the pages upon pages of full illustrations, this was a gorgeous blend of nostalgia and quality. Magical girl shows don’t get much better than this.

Favourite Series to Fangirl Over:

Black Butler – Do I ever love this series. Wow, though not really in the ‘this-is-top-notch-stuff’ way but in the ‘I’m-being-perfectly-catered-to-for-entertainment’ sort of way. Specifically the art and character designs, both of which are sleek, sharp and use lots of black. Gotta love that butler. Oh and the plot’s kind of cool too.

Favourite Surprise:

(Tie) Toriko & House of Five Leaves – There were two series I went into with little to no expectations: Toriko, because of it’s food-centric plot line and rather unattractive art style, and House of Five Leaves because of how boring I found the artist’s previously released series (Gente and Ristorante Paradiso). But both series surprised me and quickly became favourites. Toriko I’d easily say is my favourite shonen currently running and I was really eager to get my hands on volume two of House of Five Leaves for more of that brilliantly subtle character drama.

Favourite Art Style:

(Tie) XXXHolic & Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles – Does it count as a tie if the two series are done by the same people and overlap with one another? Either way, both excellent. If I had to choose one of the two, it’d be XXXHolic for CLAMP’s brilliant use of blacks and minimal toning but Tsubasa offers up some epic magical fight scenes and an assortment of gorgeous character designs. Tsubasa had its final volume released this year while XXXHolic continues on with Watanuki having an excuse to dress in jaw-dropping beautiful clothing and lazing about looking darn good.

Favourite Improvement:

(Tie) Bakuman & Rin-Ne – Both of these series I went into really wanting to like. Bakuman is a story of budding manga artists by the creators of Death Note, while Rin-Ne is the next series from Rumiko Takahashi. Unfortunately the first volumes left me feeling cold – one full of air-headed characters too and the other just flat-out dull. Thankfully their subsequent volumes have proven far more enthralling and now I await volume three of Bakuman and volume four of Rin-Ne with renewed enthusiasm. Huzzah!

Zone-00Favourite Guilty Pleasure:

Zone-oo – Oh, Zone-00 – your plot makes little to no sense, your characters are downright insane and your art style is gorgeous. From boys who look like underage girls to guys so huge and hairy they can block out the sun, there’s no end to the over the top character designs that make this book a treat to read every time. The plot, though rather non-nonsensical, is at least helped along tremendously by the writing which utilizes some of the best slang and attitude in translated manga I own.

Favourite Production Values:

Chi’s Sweet Home – Not being a fan of cats, a series about a cat being, well, a cat, falls short on my list of favourites. What Chi’s Sweet Home does possess that still attracts me to it every time I see it on the shelf is the production values. From the cute trim size to the smooth paper and full colour printing, it’s a downright adorable book whether you care much for the content or not.

Favourite to Read When I Want A Great Laugh:

Butterflies, Flowers – This isn’t a series I’d ever recommend for a great relationship in terms of any actual substance, health or believability, but if you’re looking for one that fodders some great comedy then look no further. The first volume was hit or miss with more flop than flair thanks to the one-sided dynamic between the characters yet once it got going, it’s one of my favourite series to sit down with. I know that I’ll have plenty of laughs from this sexually-driven shoujo an (obviously) older audience.

Favourite Shoujo:

Shinobi Life – I was completely smitten with this series from the first volume. A school girl and a time-travelling ninja doesn’t immediately imbue the most confidence but Shinobi Life makes it work. Both characters read a bit more mature than your average shoujo leads and there’s a good combination of drama and action to save it from being just another ‘two-worlds-one-love’ story. Most recently the story delved into potentially too-cheesy-to-work angle with more time travel and younger selves yet it still makes it work!

Saddest To See End Too Soon:

Stolen Hearts – One of the casualties of CMX’s demise, Stolen Hearts is one of the most charming shoujo series I’ve ever read so I was most sad of all to see this series come to an abrupt end. It tells the story of a class’s tallest student and the class’s shortest student falling in love over spilled drinks and kimonos. It’s so charming and full of mush, I’d love to get a chance to read more.

Tyrant Who Falls in LoveFavourite Boys’ Love of 2010:

Tyrant Who Falls in Love – Say what you will about the non-consensuality of this series (a somewhat regrettably rampant trope in boys’ love) but I loved this first volume to no end. It helps Hinako Takanaga is one of my favourite manga-ka, hands down. The exaggerated artwork and over the top situations were either good for a laugh or a well-entertained sigh of WTF-ery and I’m certainly in for the long haul to see when this relationship hopefully becomes one with a bit less ‘force’ behind it.

Most Love-Hate Relationship:

Peepo Choo – Oh Peepo Choo, definitely the most gratuitously violent and sexualized  title I’ve read all year. It certainly had a vibe all its own and it’s commentary on geek groups was on the nose enough to offend some folks. Though some of its overlapping plot elements didn’t play out that well, I still found myself enjoying all the culture shock elements of the plot and the array of unlikable yet still entertaining characters.

Can’t-Believe-I-Don’t-Have-Them-Yet of 2010:

(Tie) One Thousand and One Nights (Vol. 11) & Dragonball Omnibus – These are two things I spent the duration of 2010 telling myself I needed to buy and for one reason or another haven’t yet. I’m a huge Dragonball fan but having already bought and read various editions of the manga, I couldn’t get myself to buy these new omnibus despite how much I want them. Next year! As for One Thousand and One Nights, I just had trouble finding this – it never popped up on any local book shelves despite the presence of the rest of the series and it was quickly listed as out of stock on Amazon.ca. Thankfully it came back up as available just this week so with an order placed, I should at least have this one to look forward to early 2011! Such a beautiful story with heart-wrenching tales told within it.

– – – – – – – – –

And then to round things out, a few memorable-for-different-reasons-series:

So Bad They’re Almost Good:

(Tie) Stepping on Roses & Black Bird – The key phrase is almost good. Or maybe it’s so bad… either way, these are two shoujo series that make me cringe with their unlikeable characters and offensively one-sided relationship dynamics that are played seriously. Stepping on Roses is my least favoured of the two, with Black Bird being a tad more tolerable if only because I give an ounce of credit to people doing stupid things when you take into consideration how screwed up the lead female was in the first volume. That’s not really a compliment to the story though which is obviously released to appeal to the Twilight crowd, sharing a lot in common with the sparkling-vampire relationships.

Most Near-Impossible-To-Drag-Self-Through of 2010:

(Tie) Sasameke & Red Hot Chili Samurai – Not too much to say about these two books as I’ve yet to be able to even finish them in their entirety. Boring. Boring. Boring. The story of a boy  who loves soccer being forced to play soccer and a samurai who eats chili peppers just didn’t offer up anything but a deep, dull-induced groan.

Most Disappointing Manga of 2010:

(Tie) Ayako & Ghost Hunt (Vol. 11) – My two biggest disappointments of the year, both I awaited with high hopes and eager eyes only to feel dissatisfied upon finishing. I’ve enjoyed nearly every Osamu Tezuka work I’ve read but Ayako is a definite exception, a dry and overly-dreary story about equally dry and overly-dreary people doing  bad things. Ghost Hunt (Vol. 11) was like the crescendo of the continually dwindling quality in the series including some really lazy looking artwork and a story that stops without resolution, not to mention benching almost all the main characters. Much sadness.

Most ‘Blech’ Manga of 2010:

AX: A Collection of Alternative Manga – Not only the worst book I read this year, but easily one of the most terrible manga I’ve ever read – speaking from my own personal opinion of course. This is definitely something you would say ‘is not for me’. Pretentious stories that relied on gross and gory to be edgy offered little in the way of thought-provoking stories or any especially memorable commentary of any kind past ‘look what we can do and call art!’. It felt like it expected a full pass on its mediocrity by stamping ‘artsy’ on itself. Worse off though I suppose was the surprise I felt at the mass amount of critical praise for a collection I couldn’t fathom ever touching again. Just goes to show how diverse some peoples’ tastes can be (and welcomingly so despite any disagreements).

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

And that’s my semi-brief round-up of memorable 2010 reading! What were some of your favourites? Some of your least favourites? Or some of the titles  you missed that you intend to catch up with in 2011. Later this week I’ll also be posting my most-anticipated for 2011 so I hope you come by to share what titles you’re most looking forward to in the new year.

But all that said – HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2011 be a great one.

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Kuriousity.ca. Residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia she takes great joy in collecting all manners of manga genres, regretting that there's never enough time in the day to review or share them all. Along with reviews, Lissa is responsible for all the news postings to the website and works full time as a web and graphic designer.



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5 Responses

  1. Aaron says:

    One of my favorites of 2010 had to be both of The chobits omnibus being released I pre ordered volume two six months in advance and have read volume one lone six time through also kudos on the AX: Alternative Manga comment it has always bugged me when people try to pass off patiently offensive or excessively violent books as "mature"

    • I haven't bought the Chobits omnibus yet but I'm tempted. I still have Tokyopop's editions and don't have any complaints with them, but after seeing the amazing job Dark Horse did on Cardcaptor Sakura (and the earlier released Clover), I may need to reconsider. Do the Chobits omnibus have lots of extra illustrations as their other CLAMP books do? I'm a sucker for those pretty pictures!

  2. […] Kuriousity, Lissa Pattillo lists her favorite manga of 2010—and the ones that didn’t thrill her so much. Melinda Beasi picks her favorites at Manga […]

  3. Heheheh, two of my manga are on your list of favorites. ^_^ Hope they continue to be at the top next year.

  4. […] my look back at 2010, I named Peepo Choo as the title I had the most Love-Hate relationship with and that’s […]

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