Manga Titles

Descriptions, Overviews, and Summaries

...and reviews

Disclaimer: Most of the summaries/outlines were done from memory, so details of translation may not be correct. I may have some of the last/first names reversed. There may also be various inaccuracies here and there.

Particularly profound, enlightening, or otherwise worthwhile works (all in my opinion :) are in boldface.

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Full-Page Summaries

  1. Akuma No Houteishiki (Devils' Equation): Nakamura Rie (Bonita Comics Special) Comedy-romance girls' comics about a couple of devils and the people they keep helping.

  2. Ao no Fuuin: Shinohara Chie (Flower Comics). A young woman discovers she's a nasty bloodthirsty creature whose destiny is to take over the world. But not if she can help it. To complicate matters, she falls in love with the arch-enemy of her race.

  3. Berusaiyuu No Bara (The Rose of Versailles): Ikeda Riyoko (Margaret Comics). A classic 1970's girls' comic about a woman-raised-as-a-man in Pre-Revolutionary France. Semi-historical. The manga raises gender issues and has probably affected the views of generations of Japanese women. Beautiful artwork in the second half of the series. My overview of this series (with some selected manga screenshots) at EX. More info (D. Simmons' site). The impact of this manga makes it a don't-miss classic.

  4. Black Jack: Tezuka Osamu (Champion). Bradburyesque short-stories about a seemingly cold-hearted genius Japanese surgeon. Some of the best stories by Japan's "Father of manga" (who had a real medical background); many should be considered short-story literary classics. Many moving stories, even if the medicine is a bit impossible. The full-length movie is a sad departure from the manga excellence. The series is a personal must-read for its superb human stories.

  5. Chojin Locke (Superman Locke): Hijiri Yuki (Hit Comics). Science Fiction epic adventure that follows the psionic boy Locke as he travels through the centuries. Political intrigue and upheaval and spectacular psionic combat.

  6. Cyborg 009 (reissued version): Ishi(no)mori Shotaro (Shogakukan Bunko). An old (1960's) manga classic about 9 cyborgs battling the evil BlackGhost organization. See what must have been one of the inspirations for the animated version of Giant Robo. My 009 Overview, with some manga screenshots, at EX.

  7. Doubutsu No Oishasan ("The Animal Doctor"): Sasaki Noriko (in Hana To Yume Comics). The humorous adventures of a Hokkaido veterinary student, his friends, and his dog, learning how to care for all kinds of animals. Full of dry humor. Hamuteru's deadpanning and Chobi's (the husky) ugly-cuteness do wonders. Hardly any "weird stuff" (unless you can count an eccentric professor who dresses up in African dress as weird): just lots of humor, funny animals, and real veterinary information. A must-read for anyone who appreciates light-hearted human/animal stories.

  8. Captain Harlock: Matsumoto Reiji (Shonen Sunday). Science-fiction. Captain Harlock is about a space pirate who fights for freedom (set in the same world as Galaxy Express 999). A classic manga/anime!

  9. Doraemon: Fujiko Fujio (Tentomushi (Ladybug) Comics). Worth knowing just to glimpse childhood life in Japan. One of Japan's most recognized cultural icons, Doraemon is about a round, cat-model robot from the future sent back to help a 4th-grade boy. He has a 4D pocket of wonders. Short-story format comedy; children's manga. My Doraemon Overview (with manga screenshots) at EX. Both a reflection of and a shaper of Japanese childhood.

  10. Fushigi Yuugi. Watase Yuu (Flower Comics). Miaka gets sucked into a fantasy world in a well-done visitor-falls-into-other-world romance/fantasy/action/humor manga. Highly popular girls' manga.

  11. Galaxy Express 999 (Ginga Tetsudou 999): Matsumoto Reiji (Hit Comics) (newer series: Big Gold). Space fantasy, short-story format, about a boy traveling through the galaxy and learning about the meaning of life and mortality. (Set in the same world as Captain Harlock). Old series much better than the new. My 999 Overview at EX. Some thought-provoking stories mixed in with beautiful science-fiction backdrops.

  12. Ghost Sweeper Mikami Gokuraku Daisakusen!!: Shiina Takashi (Sunday). This is a refreshingly humorous look at the art of ghost and demon banishment, featuring the tall, beautiful, money-grubbing Mikami and her over-amorous helper Yokoshima!

  13. Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru (Night of the Galaxy Railroad) reivew at EX: Miyazawa Kenji: NOT manga, but a classic Japanese children's book from the early 20th century; is sure to have influenced many generations.

  14. Gunnm ("Gun Dream" (?)) ("Battle Angel Alita" in the US): Yukito Kishiro (Business Jump). Science-fiction. Story of a battle-trained female cyborg and her search for herself and her role in a dark and dangerous world. Has exquisite artwork, though it can get rather gory.

  15. Inuyasha: Takahashi Rumiko (Shonen Sunday). The latest Takahashi series, this one is an adventure manga about a girl and a half-dog-demon boy (Inuyasha) who are seeking to collect the fragments of the dangerous Shikon No Tama in both Civil War Japan and modern-day Japan. Romance, action, adventure, comedy. What more could one ask for??

  16. My Jungle Taitei ("Kimba the White Lion") review at EX. (His name's Leo, btw.) Some say "The Lion King" borrowed heavily from this series.

  17. Maison Ikkoku: Takahashi Rumiko (Big Spirits Comics Wide Edition (Re-issue)). A more-serious-than-average Rumiko romance (never fear; there's still classic Takahashi humor here). 1980-1987. More info on Maison Ikkoku (great stuff at Berkeley!). A lot of people seem to get addicted to this humorous soap opera.

  18. Me Gumi No Daigo: Soda Masahito (Shonen Sunday). A young man tries to adjust to his new job as a firefighter. He has an uncanny knack for saving lives.... Intense psychological drama and great character insights. No violence (except for what's needed to put out fires), no "weird stuff" (except for our hero's unusual boldness in the name of saving lives), just a good story. The characterization is why I especially recommend this manga.

  19. Mitsu Me Ga Toru (Three Eyes Is Coming Through): Tezuka Osamu (KC Special (reissue?)). Stories following the 3-eyed descendant of an ancient race of brilliant conquerers. At times, he's a cold, brilliant would-be dictator; at others, he's a mentally slow boy.

  20. P No Higeki ("The Tragedy of P") and Senmu No Inu ("The Managing Director's Dog"): Takahashi Rumiko (Big Comics Special). Two compilations of relatively recent Takahashi Rumiko short stories (1994, 1999). Some truly wonderful, funny, heartwarming shorts! Snapshots into the human experience. Meant for emotional adults (as opposed to an adult audience). The sheer quality of the stories make this a personal favorite.

  21. Ranma 1/2: Takahashi Rumiko (Shonen Sunday). The popular action-comedy series about a boy who turns into a girl when doused with cold water. Lots of light-hearted and often silly combat and adventure, with heavy doses of romance.

  22. Senmu No Inu: See "P No Higeki."

  23. 1000(sen)-nen Jyo-ou (Queen Millennial): Matsumoto Reiji (straight Shogakukan). Science-fiction. Well-known to Matsumoto fans. A young man gets embroiled in a bizarre attempt to save humanity from a stellar disaster -- with or without the aid of the beautiful and mysterious Millennial Queen. Ties into the Captain Harlock/Queen Emeraldas universe through certain parental ties.

  24. Shadow Lady: Masakazu Katsura (Jump). By the author of the infamous Video Girl Ai, this series is about a shy girl who transforms into a scantily-clad mischief-making super-villain?hero? when she uses her magic eye shadow. Surprisingly (given that description), there's real substance to the characters and the plot.

  25. Yu Yu Hakusho: Togashi Yoshihiro (Jump). A popular action series about a boy battling demons who threaten humanity. He winds up teaming up with a group of friends to continue the battles.

  26. Sweet Life (Amai Seikatsu): Yuzuki Hikaru (Business Jump). Adult romance-comedy manga about a young woman chasing a young underwear-designer genius who has little interest in women.

  27. (New) Vampire Princess Miyu, and Vampire Princess Yui: (Hirano Toshihiro), Kakinouchi Narumi (Horror Comics Special). Here's a pointer to more Miyu info. An immortal vampire girl fights "demon-gods" who feed off of human lives. This overview covers various Miyu series.

Other Memorable Manga

  1. Basara: Tamara Yumi (Flower Comics). Future fantasy about a girl pretending to be her dead brother, who must bring peace and unity to the war-torn future-Japan in which high technology has been forgotten. Before she knows it, she has become a warlord out to topple the man she has come to love. A lot of bizarre coincidences detract a bit from the romance, adventure, and intrigue.

  2. Cat's Eye: Hojo Tsukasa (Jump). Classic. Three gorgeous, daring, and superb female art thieves (all siblings) outsmart the police in their daring heists. To make matters worse, one of the cops is their good friend. And behind their daredevil art heists is a desperate attempt to find their missing father. Author of "City Hunter."

  3. City Hunter: Hojo Tsukasa (Jump). The adventures of the perpetual skirt-chasing underworld private investigator/mercenary Ryo and his beautiful, hammer-wielding assistant Kaori. (The hammer is purely used for knocking Ryo into the ground whenever he tries to get "fresh" with someone). Plenty of action and some nice artwork. Author of "Cat's Eye."

  4. Dandoh!!: Sakata Nobuhiro and Banjou Daichi (Shonen Sunday). A young boy struggles to become a master golfer, in part in order to meet his mother again. Along the way, his pure spirit manages to overcome hardship and in fact redeem the spirits of many golfers who had become jaded or insincere about their sport.

  5. Dokaben: Mizushima Shinji (Champion). Classic baseball manga from the 1970's! It follows the high school careers of some memorable young men with good hearts and high aspirations. The eventual star (though not always the main character) is a heavy-set young catcher (Yamada) with a heart of gold. Wow, some of the characters are still going strong in a related series on professional baseball. The author draws and writes with a lot of almost "rustic" warmth. One of the most famous manga about Japan's favorite national pastime.

  6. JoJo No Kimyou Na Bouken ("Jo-Jo's Bizarre Adventure Party"): Hirohiko Araki (Jump). Still running. The bizarre action-adventure-weird-stuff adventures of the Joester family, from England to Japan, across the centuries. In 1997, the story centered around the son of one of the Joesters' old arch enemies, who is trying to infiltrate a crime family in Italy. In 2000, the story centered around a previous main character's sharp-witted daughter. Full of encounters and battles with other psychic "stand-users." Most combats require our heroes to outsmart the other in some clever way. Can get gory in a weird, surreal way.

  7. Orpheus No Mado ("The Window of Orpheus"): Ikeda Riyoko (?). A semi-historical romance-tragedy by the author of The Rose of Versailles. I haven't read a lot of it, but it starts off with another girl pretending to be a boy, and ties deeply into revolutionary Russia. Tragic ending, of course.

  8. Natsuki Crisis: ? (Business Jump). Ended 1997 (I think). Action manga about a female karate master and the hot water she often winds up in. I liked this guy's drawing style.

  9. Noside: Ikeda ? (Business Jump). No longer running. A male rugby player's spirit winds up in the body of a college-aged woman. S/he fights to bring his/her rugby team to victory. To complicate matters, the original woman's soul is still around --- in the body of a young Yakuza man. And that guy's real soul is still hanging around, too. And they want to concentrate on rugby??

  10. Rurouni Kenshin: Watsuki Nobuhiro (Shonen Jump). Also known as "Samurai X" these days. A popular series about an ex-killer and genius swordsman who now goes around with an "inverted" sword; he has sworn to never kill again. However, keeping that promise looks pretty hard in a late 19th-century Japan that is struggling with its identity. Had some overly drawn out sword fights, but also some interesting philosophy and some surprisingly deep moments.

  11. 3X3 Eyes (Sazan Eyes): Takada Yuzo (Young Magazine). A young man (Yakumo) has been turned into a nearly-impossible-to-kill zombie (luckily with personality intact), and guards his soul-keeper: a young-looking girl with 3 eyes who has a split personality (one sweet and innocent, the other wise and mysterious) and supernatural powers. They and their (often non-human) friends explore ancient ruins (etc.) and battle the minions of Shiva the Destroyer.

  12. Seito Shokkun!: Shouji Youko (Kodansya Comics). This early 1980's shoujo series follows a remarkable girl called Nakki from her school days, through college, and on into young adulthood as a teacher. She's very smart and athletic, and winds up having many school adventures with her good friends. The manga goes through the standard jealousies and romances of girls' manga, but it also goes through the death of one of the main characters, the rape of another (and the nasty public ostracism she had to endure), many difficult life decisions and personal mistakes, and the continuing maturation and growth of the close-knit group. In many ways, a remarkable series: a fictitious reflection of young adulthood that sometimes dared to go into some of the nastier aspects of adult society.

  13. Uchuusenkan Yamato ("Starblazers"): Matsumoto Reiji (Shonen Sunday). Space Battleship Yamato is about a desperate group of people sent out from a war-ravaged Earth aboard the re-engineered WWII Japanese battleship Yamato; they seek the device from a distant planet that will return Earth to life. Another classic from the 1970's.

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