Jake’s Manga March For The Month Of March!
In the early to mid-2000s after the 90s craze of Batman, X-Men, and Spider-Man animated series my adolescent brain made the switch, and probably mostly due to my television viewing schedule, and I started watching anime. I started with the same series that introduced most people my age into the genre; Dragon ball and then Dragon Ball Z. Coming home after school trying to speed through my homework to catch the Toonami block on Cartoon Network in time for the newest episode was the routine for quite some time. It seemed for a while the stories on paper I took in were capes, tights, and secret identities, while the stories I took in on the screen were spikey hairstyles, glowing auras, and a lot of intense screaming. Eventually DBZ ended the American airing of the series and I had to move onto the next big Shonen series with Naruto. I finished that in its entirety and then never really followed another Anime/manga series like that. I would dip my toes here or there but never followed through to the end of the series until recently. After years of watching the Manga section grow here at my own store, as well as how our C2E2 booth was evolving from a mostly Graphic Novel booth, to a Graphic Novel and Manga booth I decided to hop back into the genre and see how Adult Jake took to it. It’s been a very fun couple of month of reading and here’s my personal list of favorites that I’ve either completed or are currently caught up on.
This is the first series I read that brought me back to my current Manga journey. It’s one that I only heard rumblings about on the internet and never got a personal recommendation from anyone for, just logging these in at the shop one week made me flip through the first volume and then I was hooked. Probably the darker of the list of series in this article Jujutsu Kaisen follows Yuji Itadori, who becomes possessed by a demon and joins a society devoted to exercising demons in secret from the rest of humanity. Seems like a simple premise but what really grabbed me was the art and that Yuji isn’t like most manga protagonists. His character moments aren’t focused on how he doesn’t want to be in the situation he’s in, but what he can do to get out of it and do it so no one gets harmed. Another favorite thing I love about this series in regards to other manga, is that they don’t repeat the same moral lessons and beat you over the head with them. This is a fast paced, pretty hardcore series, for those whose have a similar relationship to the genre as I, think Naruto, but it’s about Ghostbusters instead of Ninjas. 19 volumes and counting!
Before I really dived back into manga, Demon Slayer was one of the anime series I dipped my toes in. The animation is great, but I didn’t want to wait for future seasons to drop so I just went ahead and finished it as a manga. Similar in premise to Jujutsu Kaisen but set in Feudal Japan-like setting, the series follows Tanjiro who becomes a Demon Slayer after his sister is turned into one so that he can hope return her humanity. Demon Slayer has a great amount of comedy, and is the only one on this list that is completed. For those that don’t want a huge daunting task of an anime series that may never end, this one is for you. Just be ready to fall in love with just about every single character in series, and if you’re like me, then that’s means an obnoxious amount of collectibles to be bought! 23 volumes, and 1 spin-off prequel volume.
This one is just an obvious one and probably the most appealing to a comic book fan to try out and crossover into the genre. In a world where majority of humanity develops a super power, or quirk in this series; the story follows Izuku Midoriya, a boy without a quirk with big dreams of becoming the world’s greatest hero. This series can be a tear jerker and might as well be the Teen Titans of the manga/anime world. As much as this is a super hero story, there are liberties and different takes on what a society with super heroes looks like. If you like team books, big casts, and VERY dynamic art grab this and any of the other spin-off series as well. 33 Volumes and counting of the main series.
So, cheating here a bit, I haven’t finished this series (But I’m close!) I just can’t leave this one out since it’s not really like the other series on this list. Everything else on this list is there because it follows the usual formula I look for in an anime series, big battle, flashy costumes, dynamic art, and big foreshadowed plots. Tokyo Revengers has some of that, but not the super powers or world ending showdowns. This series does involve time travel but I would consider it more of a suspenseful love story. The main character Takemichi sees on the news his ex-girlfriend from idle school were murdered. Later that day he is pushed in front of a train and then travels back 12 years in time to when he was in middle school. It then turns into a story that’s a one of my favorite trouble youth/teen gang types of story. I won’t leave you with than that, just grab some napkins because the tears will come. 31 volumes in total.
So, I saved the best, most daunting, longest, and probably the most well-known on this list for last. After years of one of my best friends begging me to get into the series again after having watched the first handful episodes over and over again on Toonami I started it from the beginning and it was of the best choices I’ve made as far bingeing a series goes. Few series have made feel the rollercoaster of emotions as One Piece (just ask my wife, friends, and employees). One Piece Follows Monkey D. Luffy, a boy with dreams of becoming the Pirate King who is made of rubber and can stretch thanks to him eating a special fruit when he was young. It introduces a wide cast of characters, some regular and some not, but I promise you will love more than not. And I know, I know, “It’s just so long!” yeah but think about every series you’ve ever read, or watched and then went “Man! I wish there was more!” Well you literally do not need to worry about that with One Piece, sure it’s long, but it’s also one of the best rides you can go on, and just so we are clear I am 10,000% saying to read this series, don’t watch, in fact that goes for every series on this list. Read Manga!! it’s better paced, the art is better most of the time and it’s the Mangaka (Writer/Artist of the series) full expression and direction of the art and story. 105 volumes and counting.