Welcome back, manga fans! We’re back for another month of dungeon crawling through the Diamond catalog to find the gems of the manga world to highlight. Well, sometimes they’re gems. Other times they’re fools gold. And sometimes they’re just a shiny rock that I think is cool. You can’t judge me.
10. It’s Like a Junji Ito Collection but Romance and with Better Written Women
I’m not 100% sure what the previous two collections in this series are like but, as with most story collections, there’s bound to be a wide range of good and meh. The softness of the colors on the cover and the tenderness of on display draws me in, though, and I’m ready to read some Josei Yuri manga.
Conditions of Paradise: Azure Dreams
Written and illustrated by Akiko Morishima
Published by SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT LLC
The third book in yuri superstar Akiko Morishima’s series The Conditions of Paradise!
Another collection of manga tales about multiple lesbian couples, exploring adult women balancing work, life, and their love for each other.
9. Twilight but Gay and in Japan
Look, the “Sexy Foreigner is actually a Vampire” trope is old hat but I’m always down for a new twist on an old formula when it comes to vampires. Much as I and many others malign “Twilight,” Meyer got one thing right: sensuality and vampires go hand in hand. Add in a Shojo flair, a light novelist’s pen, it being gay, and you’re in for somethings I’d like to give a shot.
Vampire & His Pleasant Companions Vol. 1
Written by Narise Konohara
Illustrated by Marimo Ragawa
Published by Yen Press
From veteran shoujo manga artist Marimo Ragawa and BL light novelist Narise Konohara comes a strange and sexy tale! When a vampire from Nebraska named Al gets frozen in bat form, he winds up in Japan under the care of a dark and mysterious man covered in a bloody scent!
8. HOW TO SERVE….REMINA
It’s Junji Ito. Look, he may not write the best female characters, nor is this a great example of that, but Ito’s mastery of horror shines through even in his weakest works. This isn’t to damn “Remina” with faint praise, I’m genuinely stoked to have this make its way to English and I wouldn’t have put it on the list if I didn’t think it was worth checking out, but I think his best works are his shorter, single stories. That said, the cover is fucking terrifying and Ito can always be counted on to provide some truly gruesome imagery like a planet with a lizard tounge. Euuuuuuuch.
Written and Illustrated by Junji Ito
Published by Viz LLC
An unknown planet emerges from inside a wormhole, and its discoverer, Dr. Oguro, christens the celestial body “Remina” after his own daughter. His finding is met with great fanfare, and Remina herself rises to fame. However, the planet picks up speed as it moves along in its curious orbit, eliminating planets and stars one after another until finally Earth itself faces extinction… Is the girl Remina the true cause of the catastrophe? A masterwork of horror from Junji Ito, unfolding on a universal scale.
7. Guess Who’s Back? Back Again? Takahashi’s Back. Break out the Tissues.
Last month, I repped a work by Takahashi I have never read but knew about in passing. Imma do it again this month! Why? Because “Maison Ikkoku” is probably her most grounded series, was her sophomore outing as a mangaka, and I want people to give it a shot. The first volume of this re-release just came out and I’m stoked to give it a read. Go see if your library has it and then get ready for the second volume. There’s a reason Takahashi’s series are getting the collector’s edition treatment, after all.
Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition Vol. 2
Written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi
Published by Viz LLC
A year has passed since Kyoko Otonashi became the resident manager of Maison Ikkoku. Yusaku Godai, now a college student, gathers his courage and asks Kyoko out on a date! But the meddling tenants have other ideas about how the two will spend their evening…
For older teen audiences.
6. Feather & Ink Woodprint
“Witch Hat Atelier” is a gorgeous comic. It evokes illuminated manuscripts and woodblock prints. I cannot get enough of Shirahama’s style and the story’s good too! It’s magic but with consequences and real conflict and deep, dark secrets. Can’t pass up a combination like that.
Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 7
Written and Illustrated by Karmome Shirahama
Published by Kodansha Comics
A beautifully-illustrated story about a girl who longs for magic in her life and learns that, on the inside, she already is what she wishes she could be. Reminiscent of Studio Ghibli, this lushly-drawn story was voted one of the top 10 manga of the year in 2018 by the Japanese manga industry.
In a world where everyone takes wonders like magic spells and dragons for granted, Coco is a girl with a simple dream: She wants to be a witch. But everybody knows magicians are born, not made, and Coco was not born with the gift for magic. She’s resigned to her un-magical life, until a traveling magician passes through her village, and Coco learns what what everybody “knows” might not be the truth.
5. Sad Family Drama
Sometimes you just need a good cry. This feels like a comic that will give me that. Jiro Taniguchi is one of those names you hear in reference to prolific, important manga artists whose works don’t make it here to the US because they’re not that long. I’m glad companies are starting to bring them over, as sometimes a literary book is the perfect thing to read on a lazy Sunday.
A Journal of My Father
Written and illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi
Published by Fanfare Presents Ponent Mon
Yoichi Yamashita, spurred by a call informing him of his father’s death, thinks of childhood. He returns to his hometown after a lengthy absence during which time he has not seen his father. As the relatives gather for the funeral and the stories start to flow, Yoichi’s childhood starts to resurface. The Spring afternoons playing on the floor of his father’s barber shop, the fire that ravaged the city and his family home, his parents’ divorce and a new “mother.” Through confidences and memories shared with those who knew him best, Yoichi rediscovers the man he had long considered an absent and rather cold father.
4. I Can’t Even It’s Too Cute
*Squeeeeeeeeeeee* LOOKIT IT! IT’S A BABY BEAR. AT A BAKERY. AHHHH. I need to know more. Right now. Is it earnest? Comedic? Both? I don’t care so long as I feel warm after reading it.
Baby Bear’s Bakery Vol. 1
Written and illustrated by Kanen Totsu
Published by Denpa Books
Welcome to Baby Bear’s Bakery, a brand new patisserie run by a bear cub! While Bear may be a fine baker, he is not much of a business animal, so he has plenty to learn about running a small business. Finances, customer service and even researching new products are all new to this cub. But he is more than willing to dig his paws into the world of entrepreneurship. Join Baby Bear as he grows his cake empire!
3. Adults in Love, But Messy
Jodi did a deep dive into Shimura’s first big series “Wandering Son” over the summer, which dealt with coming of age themes for two trans kids. Her other big work, “Sweet Blue Flowers” also dealt with adolescents and love lost and found at multiple all-girls school. This time around, she’s set her eyes on the adult world and how romance blooms and falters when you think you’ve got it all figured out. It looks like it will be a tender, tense, and emotionally taxing read but in the best kinds of way. Like “Shimanome Tasogare,” but a little more focused on its two lead women.
Now if only I could read “Wandering Son” cause SOMEBODY (*cough* Fantagraphics *cough*) won’t keep the damn thing in print and don’t have the digital rights.
Even Though We’re Adults Vol. 1
Written and illustrated by Takako Shimura
Published by Seven Seas Entertainment LLC
From the critically acclaimed creator of Wandering Son, a heart-tugging manga about two busy women who think they’ve figured out the whole adulting thing… until they fall in love with each other. Ayano, an elementary school teacher in her thirties, stops by a bar one day and meets another woman named Shuri. Sparks fly as the two chat, and before the night is over, Ayano even goes in for a kiss. Shuri is intrigued but confused… especially when she discovers that Ayano has a husband! Both Ayano and Shuri are about to find out that love doesn’t get any easier, even as you grow older.
2. Telekinetic Gangsters and Salmon Roe
OK. So, I’m not 100% sure this should be in this month’s column (there are a couple others like this) because previews puts the release date in Jan BUT it’s got a code for this month’s previews so. . .“Hinamatsuri.” This manga is bonkers and the anime ended on a cliffhanger of sorts so I need to know what happens next. Basically? Yakuza man adopts a telekinetic girl and hijinks ensue. Think a more plot driven “Way of the Househusband” but with more gags about fish roe. Actually, that’s a bad description. Just let the cover do all the selling of this comic for me.
Hinamatsuri Vol. 11
Written and Illustrated by Masao Ohtake
Published by One Peace Books
Yoshifumi Nitta. Age: 36. Occupation: Yakuza. Number of children: 1. (Erm… Kind of.) When you’re stuck in an endless sprint on the fast track to success and busy maintaining your image as the fearsome “Monster of the Modern Era,” there’s never a moment to just kick back and relax. But now, Nitta comes head to head with an entirely new threat: High school student and entrepreneur extraordinaire Hitomi Mishima. Get ready for a sales strategy showdown between monster mobster and talented teenager!
1. Memoir in Real Time
It’s rare to read a memoir that is both contemporaneous and reflective of the ever shifting life situations of its creator. Kabi Nagata has had the privilege, or perhaps the curse, of being able to chart much of the last 5 years of her life through these works. They are raw, brutally honest reflections of her life as it is, how she views it and herself, without succumbing to moralizing or generalizing her experiences. They are thoughts and ideas about the self made form, the mind trying to understand itself and process the moment.
“My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness” and “My Solo Exchange Diary” Vols. 1 & 2 are memoirs par excellence because they do not succumb to pretention. They are accounts of Nagata’s life and her interpretations of them that she has chosen to share with us. They are real and emotionally arresting and messy and relatable. I suspect “My Alcoholic Escape from Reality” will continue this trend and I will be a sobbing mess by the end.
My Alcoholic Escape From Reality
Written and illustrated by Kabi Nagata
Published by Seven Seas Entertainment LLC
An emotional new diary comic from Nagata Kabi, creator of My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness. Nagata Kabi’s downward spiral is getting out of control, and she can’t stop drinking to soothe the ache of reality. After suffering from unbearable stomach pains, she goes to the hospital, where she is diagnosed with pancreatitis – and is immediately hospitalized. A new chapter unfolds in Nagata Kabi’s life, as she struggles to find her way back to reality and manga creation in the wake of her breakdown.
Anything I missed? What are YOU looking forward to? Let me know in the comments! And if I don’t respond, know that I do read them.