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Nanao san is one of the latest additions to our office in Boulder, Colorado. She is also a keen reader of Manga and gives us her tips on the best Manga currently on the market in Japan…
Manga, the Japanese version of comic books, might be one of the things that you associate with Japan. Japanese manga is loved all over the world because it has a wide variety of themes, is entertaining, and at the same time literary. Here is a list of the 5 latest and most popular manga in Japan. Some of them have already been translated into English. You should definitely check them out!
1. 進撃の巨人 Shingeki-no-kyojin Attack on Titan, by Hajime Isayama
This manga has become a social phenomenon in Japan recently. (I cannot recommend it to children because there are some gruesome scenes.)
The world in Attack on Titan is dominated by giants–that eat human beings. The people that survived the predacious titans built three 165-foot (50m) walls around their settlement. However, the peace that humans kept for 100 years is suddenly destroyed. The titans start attacking humanity again. The main character, Eren, dreaming of the world outside the walls, becomes a soldier and challenges the titans.
2. 銀の匙 Gin-no- Saji Silver Spoon, by Hiromu Arakawa (also author of Fullmetal Alchemist)
The phrase “born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth” brings to mind an image of wealth. The author indicates that wealth does not necessarily mean money, but having the ability to produce what you need for your life by yourself. The story is about life in an agricultural high school in Hokkaido, which is in northern Japan. The main character is tired of 受験戦争(jyuken-sensou, literally “exam war,” referring to grueling high school entrance exams) and decides to enter an agricultural high school to experience a completely new and different world. He starts learning how the food we eat everyday is produced and about the life and daily reality of farmers.
3. 聖☆おにいさん Saint-Onisan Saint Young Men, by Hikaru Nakamura
What would happen if Buddha and Jesus were still alive–and they were friends? And what if they decided to live in Tokyo to take a vacation from their hard work? This manga succeeds in depicting this interesting idea really comically. The reason this manga is possible might be because Japan is fairly polytheistic. The British museum exhibited 聖☆おにいさん as a sample of Japanese culture in 2011!
4. 海街diary Umi-machi diary by Akimi Yoshida
The story of Umi-machi diary (umi means ocean and machi means town in Japanese) unfolds in the small, beautiful beachfront town of Kamakura, which is my lovely hometown! This work is about the life of four sisters. The author depicts the townscape in beautiful detail as it changes over the four seasons. That adds to the depth and literary feel of this manga.
5. Akira, by Katsuhiro Otomo
This work is not a new manga but is already considered a classic masterpiece–Akira has been famous and popular for over 30 years not only in Japan but all over the world. However a lot of people will probably re-read this exciting story soon–because we just found out that Akira predicted current events in Japan. And it is awesomely accurate; the main character, Akira, lives in “Neo Tokyo” in 2019. After being destroyed by a terrible disaster, Neo Tokyo begins to rebuild because it is going to host the 2020 Olympics! Now is the definitely the time to re-read this masterpiece!
Unfortunately Saint Onisan and Umi-machi Diary are not available in English yet. However, you can buy the English translation of Attack on Titan on amazon.com and you can watch the animated versions of Attack on Titan and Silver Spoon on www.crunchyroll.com with English subtitles. Needless to say, the manga and movie version of Akira are both available in English!
Thanks Nanao san. Can’t wait until Doki Doki in Manchester so that I can wow people with my new Manga knowledge!