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Andrew Top Ten 2006

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 4 months ago
VideoNovelsMangaFeatures

Top ten things I was obsessed with this year.

 

After careful consideration, I managed to boil it down to ten things. Some excellent things that I dearly love did not make this list, either because I was obsessed with them last year, or will be next year...and of course, I left The Wire off the list because at this point it is an established fact that it always belongs at number one on the list of all right thinking people.

 

1. NisiOisin

Really the obvious one. Picked up one of his books because the display caught my eye, and read every single book he's written over the course of the year. There simply is not better writer working today, and if there is, let me know. They can be on next year's list. Plots structured tauntly down to the beats of conversation, an absolute love of the Japanese language that lets him test the limits of what the language can do, characters that come to life in seconds, that can always be identified by their dialogue alone (because nobody else would speak like them), all the pop thrills you could want backed by a depth of meaning that never fails to astonish.

2. Arai Hideki

Number one for the longest time as I was making this, but I have been reading him for several years now, so I had to give the award away. Finished off the first part of his masterpiece Kiichi, started up Rin, the second half of Sugar, which really is to boxing manga what The Wire is to cop shows, and had his out of print breakout masterpiece, The World is Mine, reprinted in a kind of director's cut, with new pages and countless corrections, bringing it back into the world even more relevant that it was when he started. There is no better writer in manga.

 

3. Souten Kouro

So filled with badassitude it stains your hands, this epic, 34-volume retelling of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms from the villain's point of view is the single most awe-inspiring epic ever put to page. Every panel of this book is epic. Arcs about poetry are treated with the same mad enthusiasm as the skull crushing battle scenes. It's everything you ever wanted a historical epic to be.

 

4. Doctor Who

I had to stop wearing my Doctor Who scarf a few years ago because Japanese kids thought it was a Harry Potter scarf. I fled the taint. I get excited like a five year old on Christmas every time I hear the theme, and privately conclude that everyone who doesn't love Who has lost their soul.

 

5. Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro

The most bat-shit crazy shonen manga ever, this book about a demon who feeds on secrets makes a very rough stab at pretending to be a mystery series and then proceeds to not give a good damn about any of the things that can make mystery novels so tedious. Which is not to say the madness is all there is (a flaw of so many otherwise fine looney manga) because the plot really does surprise you and pull you along. Illustrating all the exposition with deranged sight gags, replacing the detective explains it bit with diabolical rants from the crazed criminals, and generally shattering the minds of all the children who read it make this my personal favorite Jump book.

 

6. Scott Pilgrim

Why aren't you reading this? You should be. Unlike almost everything I talk about on this site, it's actually in English. I totally fell off the rails with Western comics last year, but not with Scott. Scott I still buy. See Scott fight evil vegan ex-boyfriends! See the awesomely-named Knives Chau ninja leap off the wall of the library! Wait frothing for the upcoming movie by the director of Spaced! and Shaun of the Dead to make Brian O'Malley the incredible fortune he deserves!

 

7. Gag manga

I am so cheating with this one. My main impression of gag manga before this year (or maybe last year) was much the same as newspaper comics -- tedious, lame jokes that never change or improve. There were others that seemed to be mainly scatalogical humor, and many books where I honestly couldn't even figure out what was supposed to be funny. But now I have a little pile of hysterically funny manga coming in every month. Gintama, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, Hayate the Combat Butler, Dai Amon and his endless number of Jojo references...let's hope Nishimori gets going again next year, since his Doushiro de Gozaru was easily the best of the lot.

 

8. Nightwatch

Damn it, I watched both movies RAW I liked them so much. Finally someone doing that urban fantasy world with the kind of balls out intensity and grit that was always missing. The novel has the added advantage of actually making sense, despite the translator's best efforts to make it incomprehensible through sheer awfulness of writing. I can only assume the book had no editor at all. But the story was so good I ended up not really caring.

 

9. Lollypop or a Bullet

This was maybe the first thing I read this year that really got to me. That really made me forget how much time was passing as I read it. As much as I like Gosick, this one really hits a nerve somewhere and makes itself unforgettable.

 

10. Soul Eater

This fought Steel Ball Run for a long time, but this is new and Jojo's has been around forever, so Soul Eater it is. I can't help but feel books like this and Neuro are part of an extremely encouraging trend in manga -- books that look different, feel different, don't go or do or read like anything else out there, and satisfy completely. If Scott Pilgrim is borrowing elements from manga and making them its won, Soul Eater feels like a manga artist watched Invader Zim and picked up a few tricks to make his fantasy horror comedy action DEATH manga just that much more awesome.

 

Andrew Cunningham

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