Manga Before Flowers -- 10 Happy-Making Things

The last few weeks, I've been sadly AWOL from the blog, so in order to remind myself why I love anime and manga I'm stealing a page from OtakuUSA and doubling their usual "Otaku Top 5" for a list of 10 manga and anime-related things that have brightened my day recently. Feel free to list your top 5 picks as well....

1. Flower of Life vol 4 has been scheduled for release. Yeah, I've already link-blogged this, but my love of Fumi Yoshinaga has no shame. I might just mention this once a week until DMP actually delivers on the book mid-2009. I'm obsessive that way.

2. Skip Beat! has an anime. No, I haven't watched it, it could be crap. (The mangaka's designs don't scream "Animate me!" to be honest). It just makes me very happy to know that such a thing exists. Also, people need to get over the first chapter of Skip Beat and realize 30 pages of a girl acting like a doormat is nothing compared to 19+ volumes of a girl being so completely AWESOME. Seriously, Kyoko will own your soul if you give her even the smallest chance. Generally speaking, Skip Beat! is always on my list of things that make me happy so its recent anime-status just makes gives me the excuse to talk about one of my top five shojo manga of all time.

3. Papillon vol 1, released by Del Rey. It's so completely over-the-top -- twins! Perverted guidance counselor! Enormously stupid, easily-manipulated love interest! Your physical qualities will define your entire life! I mean what else can you expect from the creator of Peach Girl. In spite of all that, Papillon reminds me why melodramatic shojo can be a true guilty pleasure.

4. Pluto vol 1, to be published by Viz. Urasawa, who is pure awesome, takes one of Tezuka's playthings out for a one helluva test drive. I have no idea what the actual manga is about -- only that it is connected to Tezuka's Astroboy-- but I'm sold on the whole thing because 1) Urasawa. and 2) the cover art for volume one is pretty much the best thing ever.

5. Ouran Host Club Animated Series part 1 will finally be released in two weeks. I feel like I've been waiting forever on this (seriously, Funimation, two years is two years too long for this show). While the manga is certainly good, I think the story is benefited greatly by being animated. Also I'm really curious about the English dub...it could be pretty great or hilariously awful. Either way, the show will be hilarous.

6. Shonen Ai Harem manga! Tokyopop's releases of Silver Diamond and Kyo Kara Maoh! are pretty damned awesome (color pages! Great translation! Great paper / ink quality!) Other than sharing a genre, these manga are pretty different but both are great reads and make me just generally happy that manga continues to be my primary playground.

7. Go! Comi. Go! Comi is always a friend as far as I'm concerned but they've recently brought out some fantastic volumes of series that were only just *good* before and now have improved to damn near "great" series. (Expect some discussion about recent twists & turns in flagship Go! Comi series Black Sun, Silver Moon and Her Majesty's Dog very, very soon).

8. Future Lovers published by Deux Press. Future Lovers itself is certainly a very good volume of yaoi, but more significantly it is the first time Saika Kunieda's work has been published in English. She's pretty much up there with Fumi Yoshinaga as far as I'm concerned, so consider this high praise indeed from this Yoshinaga-lover. Future Lovers is a fairly strong piece of yaoi, even though its strength is simply in the fact its characters are very believable and it maintains fairly realistic depictions of gay identity and relationships. Then there's the funny, which helps things along quite a bit. I really hope we eventually see the second volume of this series and more of Kunieda's work in the future.

9. Solanin published by Viz. Viz publishing Josei? Awesome. Viz publish Josei in a done-in-one-prestige-edition? Really freakin' awesome. Sadly, Diamond didn't ship this to my store last week and it isn't scheduled to arrive this week either. I'll keep the faith, though, and look forward to the day I can buy this from my local comic book shop.

10. Melinda Beasi's blog, particularly its focus on her recent NANA obsession. Melinda does lovely posts explaining why some of my favorite manga series -- Banana Fish, NANA, xxxholic -- should also be everyone's favorite manga series. Also, I'm envious of her use of images / scans, which I would like to incorporate into my own blogging but get overwhelmed by my own ambition. It is quite lovely to see just the right amount of ambition pay off in blogging and Melinda's recent NANA spree is really a thing of joy to behold.

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