My Favorite Manga of 2017

This has been an interesting year for me, not the least of because I spent half of it working on my first major nonfiction book, Write! Shonen Manga. Now, I normally read a lot of manga, and am always looking for new series to check out, but because of the research I was doing I really doubled down on trying new series that might not have appealed to me in the past.

As a result, I found quite a few interesting titles, and I thought I’d share some of these gems with you all. The main rule in selecting these titles was that they’re ones I started to read in 2017, although most of them also started in 2017 as well, so it works either way. Therefore, my favorite books like One Piece, One-Punch Man and Duopo Cangqiong aren’t listed because they’re books I’ve enjoyed for some time.

On that note, let’s begin… (in no particular order)


Summary: Rin, a girl camping by herself at the base of Mt. Fuji. Nadeshiko, a girl who came to see Mt. Fuji on her bicycle. The scenery the two witness over a supper of cup ramen… marks the start of a new friendship and many adventures to come, camping in the great outdoors!

This comic about off-season camping in Japan fascinated me to no end. It breaks almost every western rule of storytelling, yet is charming and compelling and I can’t help smiling whenever a new chapter of this monthly series drops. It’s a perfect example of what I call an Activity Manga, which is designed to teach the audience about a subject in an interesting way. It actually makes me want to try camping for the first time in my life!


Saotome-Senshu, Hitakakusu

Summary: High-Schooler Tsukishima Satoru gets confessed to by local female High-School boxing-talent Saotome Yae. He rejects her initially because he does not want to impede her boxing career (and prevent getting beaten up by her fans). Her female coach, Shioya, hears about this and decides to install him as Saotome’s trainer so that they can secretly date each other. This situation is also aided by his extensive boxing knowledge.

This looks like a sports manga, but in reality it’s a romantic slice of life story about a nerdy high-schooler and the school’s female boxing champion. While it comes across initially as a gender-swapped high school romance, it actually becomes quite charming and touching as it goes on. The tone is optimistic and the characters are likeable enough to carry this very plot-light story.



Summary: Two friends find themselves in a post-apocalyptic world: most humans have been turned into stone.They will have to manage to survive and get a cure for this phenomenon!

This was one of my surprise favorites of the year, and thanks to a slow start I almost gave up on it, but boy am I glad I didn’t! Artist Boichi has been a longtime favorite of mine, and with this tale of rebuilding civilization he’s finally found a true venue to show off his talent. Super lively and interesting, once it hits it’s second major story arc, this book never fails to entertain. Senku is the coolest scientist hero I’ve seen in a very long time, and when I think about it, when was the last time you saw a real scientist as a hero in a post apocalyptic actioner? If you can’t think of one, read this book now!



Summary: Set 30,000 years ago, a tribe of cro-magnon people face the challenges of life in the stone age.

This one squeaked in, as I only started to read it last week, but it immediately became a favorite. I’ve never been fond of caveman stories, but this one is so well told that even I can’t help but wish there were more chapters available right now! The Japanese never cease to amaze me with their ability to take stories that should be boring and give them an interesting twist. The gorgeous art doesn’t hurt either!


Summary: He met a girl. A young girl branded with the mark of a demon. That was the beginning of everything. “Crap, my girl’s so cute” This is the story of the two who became an overly protective guardian and an adopted child, changing relationships, and watching how that relationship evolves.

Despite the grand sounding title, this is actually a slice of life book about the warrior mage Dale and his adorable adopted daughter Latina. Latina is a member of the demon race, but Dale takes him into his home and she steals his heart and the hearts of everyone around her with her charm, including the readers. It’s based on a light novel series, and I enjoy it so much I’ve been tempted to start reading the novel as well.


Honorable Mentions:


Robot X Laserbeam

Summary: Roboto Hatohara (Roboto is the Japanese phonetic rendering of both Robert (his actual name) and the word robot in Japanese) is an autistic half-Japanese high schooler who discovers an incredible talent for golf that opens up a whole new world for the quiet youth.

This one makes the honorable mentions list because while it wasn’t one of my favorites, I do enjoy it, and it is largely responsible for kickstarting my writing of my book on Shonen Manga. To be honest, I thought golf was super boring, but once I started reading this book I couldn’t stop, and it was that strange dissonance between loving a comic about a subject that I didn’t like that triggered my exploration into the secrets of manga writing. The characters are okay, but it’s told with enough style and kinetic energy that you get swept along on Roboto’s journey whether you want to or not. The power of a well told tale indeed!


And, that’s it for 2017! There were a few others I almost put on the list, like Honzuki no Gekokujo, but in the end I decided to just stick with the ones which I enjoyed the most. They’re a varied bunch, and I heartily recommend checking out each of them. But be careful of doing it before bed, you might just see the sun rise before you stop reading!

Happy New Year! And here’s to the manga and adventures of 2018!

Thanks for reading!


Movie Night- The Green Hornet

So, tonight the wife and I trundled off to see The Green Hornet, which admittedly I didn’t have a lot of hope for (based on the reviews) but which my wife wanted to see because his sidekick Kato was played by Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou. (My wife, for those who may not know, is Taiwanese.) She’s actually not a huge fan of Jay Chou himself, but he’s a hometown boy making it big in Hollywood, so she wanted to support him. I could respect that, so off we went, despite my worries that I was walking into a train wreck in glorious 3D. (3D being something that stopped impressing me when I watched Gorilla at Large on WUAB Cleveland when I was 12.)

Well, I wasn’t wrong, The Green Hornet IS a train wreck in terms of plot, casting and on many other levels. It never quite flows together as a story, takes weird turns of logic, Cameron Diaz is a total waste in the film (it’s like she has a “why am I here?” sign hanging over her whenever she’s briefly on the screen), and the guy who cast Seth Rogan in this film should be run out of Hollywood and told never to come back. (On penalty of death!)

But, the truly weird thing is that despite all of that I actually enjoyed myself. The guy who barely speaks English (Jay Chou) runs acting and charisma rings around everyone else in the film, and totally steals it. If it wasn’t for him, this film would have been a forgotten flop (just like the original Green Hornet TV series would have been footnote without Bruce Lee doing the same thing!) and thanks to his presence holding the film together and some nifty action sequences it actually manages to be 2 hours of entertainment. Not good entertainment, but a film that kept me from being bored (which isn’t easy these days), had a good laugh every couple minutes, and was generally fun to watch. Actually, I should correct myself. The film had two real stars, Jay Chou, and the car. Both of which managed to out-act Rogan and Diaz.

I think if they’d replaced Rogan with any number of leading men who have actual charisma, and given Diaz’s tiny part to some other actress who needed it, this film would have been a lot better. It reminded me of Iron Man 2 a lot, actually. A glorious mess of a story that was held together by the charisma of Robert Downey Junior, but in this case it was the “sidekick” whose charisma made the movie work, so the whole thing is off-balance and off-kilter and never quite manages to get itself on track.

Oh, and the 3D is totally wasted. You can tell they added the 3D in post production (not filmed it in 3D) and you both forget it’s there and wish it wasn’t. For example, there’s a lot of scenes where you’re supposed to read text on notes on the screen, but thanks to the 3D glasses being dark they’re actually hard to read. I commented to my wife that everything Jay Chou’s character built was labeled in Chinese, and she didn’t even notice because she couldn’t read it clearly enough to tell!

I expect this film will do reasonably well here (off-season, good opening weekend) and will probably do Gangbusters in Asia, both because of the Asian connection, and because the style of humor is more Asian than Western. It reminded me a lot of the humor you tend to find in Hong Kong films. This will result in a sequel, god help us all. But who knows, if they actually have a writer, it might just work.

In the end, I suggest it as a rental, not a theatre movie unless you’re really curious.

One other note, I think they showed a series of trailers before the movie.

I say “I think” because apparently while I stopped watching films for a while (my last one was during the summer, I think…) somebody changed what constitutes a trailer on me. Last time I checked, a trailer was a 2-3 minute mini version of the film that usually even gives away the ending if you’re paying attention. I hate that about trailers, and find that really annoying.

However, now they’ve actually managed to come up with something even more annoying! A new trailer consists of music and a series of super-fast clips, that are so short they almost constitute stills, being flashed at you for 30 seconds and then it’s over. WTF is that? Did someone decide that blipverts were a good idea while I wasn’t looking? And the worst part is that I can’t really tell you what trailers I saw, because they were all exactly the same! There was a guy from hell, and explosions. A guy fighting vampires, and explosions. Aliens invading and explosions. And something else, and explosions.

It’s like they now have a computer program that you feed a film into and it makes these things, but nobody realized they were all using the same program and so all the trailers look exactly the same!

Or maybe it’s that all those movies are exactly the same. Either-or.

Now I remember why I don’t go see movies much anymore.