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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sayonara, 2012: A Year In Manga

Where did the year go to? It's already five days into 2013, which means it's time enough to do a review of last year for manga. A lot of crazy things happened in the manga industry in 2012 - Tokyopop returned, digital manga saw a revival that actually made it financial feasible with sites like JManga and Shonen Jump Alpha, the death of Borders, et cetera - and you can read a much better summary of the year at the OASG blog.

Personally, it was a great year for manga, especially since I was able to actually buy manga regularly with my own money! Which is always great, since goodness knows the industry needs more monetary support. In a year of great manga, I've highlighted a few (a few?!) of my favorites of 2012.

Favorite series ending: A toss-up between Full Metal Alchemist and Ouran High School Host Club, both two great series that I was sad to see go, albeit two series that have very little in common. I can only hope that Ouran gets a Brotherhood-esque treatment in which the actual manga ending gets animated.

Favorite currently running series: Library Wars. I love it! For a manga about people who work in a library, it's exciting and romantic and one of the best titles currently coming out of Viz's Shojo Beat imprint. Plus, Iku is just one of those heroines you can't help but root for no matter what she's doing. Love her, too!

Favorite new series: Another toss-up, this time between Twin Spica and Wandering Son. Both pulled at my heart in various ways and made me cry at least once, a hard feat for the printed medium. Plus they have brilliant artwork and wonderful characters that set them apart from their fellow series.

Favorite yaoi title: Seven Days: Monday → Thursday. It was a delightful school BL manga with an atypical plot - a boy asks out his friend, who dates anyone who asks him out on Monday only to dump them in a week - and creates a great, emotional read out of it. Eventually, I'll read volume two, promise!

Favorite manga surprise: Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura. The latest Arina Tanemura series started out okay - nothing to write home about. However, over the past four volumes, it has grown into something I can look forward to each new release. Need more badass Sakura and her sword!

Favorite manga adaptation: Durarara!!. The manga actually adds another layer of information to what had been revealed in the anime, and becomes a lot more satisfying for those who have actually seen the anime. Plus, it has a lot more Celty! I do adore her so.

Favorite shojo title: Stepping On Roses. Let's be real, though. It's a soap opera, but it's a soap opera at its highest form - and it's damn entertaining too. Plus, it has something over most soap operas: it eventually ends. And dead characters don't come back with different actors! Beat that, Guiding Light.

Favorite shonen title: Letter Bee/Tegami Bachi. To me, it's not a typical shonen and that's why it's so great. It carries the essence of what a shonen title is - a young man growing up and discovering himself and his destiny - and throws it into a world of snow and ice and letters. It's a world in stark contrast to those of its shonen fellows like Naruto and One Piece and Toriko, and that's why I love it.

Runner up for favorite shonen title would be One Piece. The New World arc absolutely killed me, and I'm looking forward to reading more of Luffy and his crew post-time skip, now that everyone is stronger and looking deliciously spiffy.

Favorite manga moment: The return of Tokyopop. The absence of Tokyopop left a pretty big hole in the manga industry, but it's back, and it's returning with one of its most beloved titles: Axis Powers Hetalia. One only hopes Hetalia and a handful of OEL manga aren't the only things TP has up its sleeve so far.

Worst manga moment: The return of Tokyopop. Seriously, when Tokyopop shut down years ago, it was hard - but other companies had since taken its place and improved upon its design. The return of Tokyopop is a reminder of days better left in the past. Sometimes, nostalgia is better left as nostalgia.

Favorite manga license: Poyopoyo . . . what? I like round cats!