Manga in 2014

A look at my past year reading manga.

Seo Kouji:

Kimi no Iru Machi was, for the most part, a great read.   A tale of romance and coming of age that felt like a roller coaster.  The writing wasn’t always good, and the characters could be downright rage inducing.  Overall though, KnIM had quite a bit going for it.  I wanted to see the characters find happiness, even if they didn’t necessarily deserve it.  As the series drew to a close early this year, those of us following the long running series were treated to one of the worst trainwreck endings I have ever seen.  Having made it through so many trials an tribulations, our main couple breaks up and then time jumps their way into an inexplicable happy ending.  KnIM’s ending came off like Seo was just tired of writing it and wanted to move on.  It’s too bad, because the title deserved better and so did the fans who had stuck with it over the last 5 years.

(Caution: Major Spoiler coming)  What Seo appears to have been in a hurry to move on to was Fuuka.  Centering a story around the daughter of lead couple of his older work Suzuka, Seo started the new manga promisingly.  In a meandering way he led us down a romance between the plucky heroine and a hesitant, shy boy with no ambition.  (Stop now if you haven’t read and are planning to read Fuuka)

He kills her.  The title character suddenly dies and the manga wanders around aimlessly for several chapters.  Possibly forever as the last time I read it a few weeks ago it was still in “getting the band back together” land.  Fukka’s death wasn’t handled well.  It was in fact, handled with same kind of apparent disinterest that KnIM’s ending was.  Killing off the title character is a bold move, which if done correctly, could have elevated the manga significantly.  Unfortunately, Seo went for pure shock value and apparently hadn’t thought of anything to follow it up with.  He never even bothered to show her grieving parents, who many of us had followed through over 160 chapters.  The real crime about Fuuka’s death is that the manga has been boring ever since.  The only thing keeping me interested at all is wondering what the hell Seo was thinking.  As time goes on though, it’s looking like he wasn’t thinking at all.

Koe no Kitachi:

Koe no Kitachi (aka Silent Voice) was not an easy read at first.  The early chapters full of elementary school bullying are really hard to get through.  The reward is one of the best stories I’ve ever read.  When the manga ended in November, I found my Tuesdays suddenly felt empty.  Although I wish that the ending had been more substantial, this manga has planted itself firmly near the top of my list and I expect it to stay there for a long time.

Horimiya:

Horimiya is a delightful manga about a pair of oddballs and their oddball romance.  The reason I mention it in a year end review is that it the main characters managed to take their relationship way past where most mangas stop.  They even did it in a remarkably classy way.  Also, the manga is still going strong and is still as funny and sweet as ever.  Such a great example to the titles that stop short of the characters even dating.

Ore ga Doutei o Sutetara Shinu Ken ni Tsuite:

This manga was a pleasant surprise.  Ore ga Doutei was the epidome of Seinen manga.  The MC gets strangled by an old friend, but instead of death he finds himself years in the past and back in high school.  He is determined to alter the future and avoid making the mistakes he believes led to his death.  He, naturally, finds this all a lot more difficult than it sounds.  It was a great story that I just kind of stumbled upon early this year.  Titles like this remind me that if I don’t dig a little bit into the giant pile of scanlated manga now and then, you really do miss out on some great stuff.

Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai (Aka: The World God Only Knows):

Of all the mangas ended in 2014, the one that stands out the most is tKami Nomi.  It’s had it’s ups and downs, but till the end Kami Nomi was exactly the kind of title I read manga for.  The mangaka built great characters built around a ludicrous premise and then just kept making it click.  As it finally reached it’s climax earlier this year, I realized just how much I enjoyed my time with Keima and co.  The ending itself was just OK.  The manga though, was a great one.  If you’ve seen the anime and want more, or if you are new to manga and are looking for a nice long read.  I highly recommend this title.

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