As I typed up this list I realized that mostly all of my favorites are old school. I’m talking 1900’s to early 2000’s. The list I’ve compiled are of mangas/manhwas that I throughly enjoyed. They aren’t philosophically geared nor are they necessarily the greatest works of all time. They are quailty entertainment and if know anything I know good wholesome quality entertainment. [Be mindful that this list isn’t in any order.]
I also realized I’m all the way lost when it comes to newer manga’s and I’m not okay with that. Reading is and forever will be my first love. Lately I’ve been neglecting one of the main reasons I’ve became an avid reader and I need to jump back on that horse. Any suggestions?
Title: Love SOS Author: Mi-Ri Hwang Type: Manhwa Published: 2001 - ? Genre: Action, Drama, Romance, School, Shoujo
The main character is Dan-bi, the daughter of a Yakuza boss. One night, the father she loves more than anything is killed before her eyes. The killers blind her, making her father’s death the last thing she sees with her own eyes. Her mother sends the wounded Dan-bi to Korea, where she has an eye transplant. From then on, Dan- bi is to be a good girl, live with her aunt, and stay out of trouble.
Dan-bi does her best, maneuvering between her aunt’s boy-crazy daughter and Jijang son. Things get complicated when her aunt’s adopted son turns out to be connected to the mysterious boy who looked in on Dan-bi when she was in the hospital. This boy always looks so sad, and once he even asked for permission to kiss Dan-bi’s eyes. (Source: Wikipedia)
There are a lot of bad reviews on Love SOS but I love this manga so much. Dan-bi is the female lead we always wanted. I know I’m not the only one that tosses the book across the room every time the main character lets the mean girls bully her. Dan-bi is bad ass and she stays true to her yakuza roots. I don’t know many people that get stabbed in the eyes and aren’t tramatized. In the end Dan-bi came thorugh like the boss ass bitch she is and slayed. Admittedly this manhwa is a bit of a reverse harem and melodramatic asf. I totally get why people don’t really like Love SOS. The story is overly drawn out, has a ton of filler chapters and gets off topic too many times. but for me it was everything.
Title: Tokyo Crazy Paradise Author: Yoshiki Nakamura Type: Manga Published: 1996-2002 Genre: action, comedy, drama, romance, shoujo, gender bender
Life in the year 2020 in Tokyo is tough, as crime rates are high, and crimes against women rank second only to murders. To prevent their daughter from being exposed to these crimes, Tsukasa’s parents raised her to be a male. Tsukasa aspires to be a policeman fighting against the yakuza, just like her parents. However, her parents died in the line of work, leaving behind Tsukasa and her 3 brothers to fend for themselves. Tsukasa must thus work as a bodyguard for her classmate, Ryuji, who happens to be the leader of the most powerful yakuza group in Tokyo, to pay off the family’s debts. (source: ANN)
I first want to state that while the genre was labeled shoujo I really think it should be labeled Josei. There are some nip slips and also most of the context isn’t subtle for a ten year old. But, anyways here’s another manga about a bad ass female. Tsukasa is the perfect combination of fun, fighter, and woman. Tsukasa who has grown up raised as a boy is only sure about one thing and it’s her skills as a fighter. She is in fact a bomb ass fighter. She suppressed her womanly needs and neglected that side of herself for so long that when she started to catch feelings for Ryuji she doesn’t know how to deal with it. What I love most about the manga is the relationship between Tsukasa and Ryuji. I know you’re thinking like duh of course you do but, no really. They start off as wary friends and even at the end of the series it’s still not 100 percent clear if they’re together. They are natural born enemies a cop kid and a yakuza kid. The way the relationship builds and the time it took to build it comes off very realistic even though the issues surrounding them are anything but. Overall, as much as I love them together I also love their personal growth.
Title: Kanata Kara [From Far Away] Author: Kyouko Hikawa Type: Manga Published: 1991-2003 Genre: Adventure, demons, fantasy, romance, shoujo
On her way home from school one day, Noriko is unexpectedly plunged into a strange and extraordinary fantasy world. Her troubles compound exponentially when she is rescued and befriended by a handsome young man by the name of Izark. He may be brave and courageous, but inside Izark lurks the darkest evil imaginable. And according to an ancient prophecy, Noriko possesses the power to unleash that evil. Now, inexorably bound together, these two unlikely allies must navigate a world both wondrous and hostile. (source: Viz media)
From Far Away has to be the most realistic fantasy manga I have read to date. That’s why I love it. Izark and Noriko’s realationship blossoms over time in such a realistic way you almost forget this is a fictional story. I love that she doesn’t just drop into this new world and fits in seemlessly. She doesn’t magically understand or speak their language. I like that she actually has to learn it and the other characters are seen struggling to figure out what she’s thinking and saying. Noriko is seen as weak in this new world where nothing is normal and everyone is an superhuman. Yet her will isn’t weak and she inner strength inspires Izark who lacks everything but physical strength. Noriko helps Izark deal with his past tramas in again a normal average realistic way. I know I keep emphasizing how realistic everything is but I’m doing so on purpose. Noriko show us that you can be a caterpiller among butterflies and still be beautiful.
Title: Sora wa Akai Kawa Hatori [Red River] Author: Chie Shinohara Type: Manga Published: 1995-2002 Genre: Action, adventure, drama, fantasy, historical, romance, shoujo, supernatural
A seemingly ordinary modern day teenager, Yuri, is suddenly whisked away to the Hittite empire in ancient Anatolia, where an ambitious queen wants the girl for a blood sacrifice in order to murder all heirs but her son, thus seizing control of the throne. Luckily, the timely intervention of Prince Kail saves Yuri from the queen’s grasp. Kail promises to send Yuri back to her home, but the queen’s persistent schemes to kill them both, plus their growing feelings for each other, keep those plans delayed. (source: wikipedia)
What tickled my feathers about this manga was how everyone put Yuri on this high pedal stool for completely logical reasons. I’ll give you an example. There’s a chapter where Yuri is captured and they throw her in this pit where they keep all the sick people at until they die. So they assumed Yuri would eventually succumb to the disease. Unfortunately for them she didn’t and you want to know why? Because in the future she was up to date with all of her shots. Therefore immune to whatever disease the others had. It tickled my feathers because she actually says it. She’s like “Oh, maybe I’m not getting sick because I got all my shots.” Yuri is quick-witted as she finds herself in many predicaments and always tries her best to get herself out of them. I love how she doesn’t wait on nor depend on Prince Kail to bail her out.
Prince Kail is the best manga boyfriend hands down. He has his hang ups but for the most part he tends to be understanding. He respects Yuri and he allows her to be herself. He might not always like her getting herself in certain situations but he doesn’t restrict her. He also always stands by her and supports her.
Title: NANA Author: Ai Yazawa Type: Manga Published: 2000 -2009 (still on hiatus) Genre: Drama, music, slice of life, Josei
Nana Komatsu is a naive, unmotivated girl who spends her high school days chasing one crush after the other. Despite continually facing failure in her quest for love, her spirits have never dampened. At the age of 20, she finds herself on a train to Tokyo with hopes of reuniting with her current boyfriend.
Nana Osaki, on the other hand, is feisty and prideful. After joining a local band during her high school days, she falls in love with music and one of the band members. However, when faced with the choice between her relationship and her musical career, she chooses the latter and separates from her boyfriend. On her 20th birthday, she boards the same train to Tokyo, like her namesake, where she aims to become a top vocalist.
The two girls with the same name but very different aspirations find themselves sitting together on their journey to the city, and, as fate would have it, eventually share the same apartment. A deep and unique bond is then forged, where they will support each other in this saga of love, music, friendship, and heartbreak. (source: MAL Rewrite)
The thing about NANA is it real. Everything the characters go through are things that happen in real life. It’s not over dramatized. This is a story about people coming together because of music but staying because they’ve connected. There are some funny scenes throughout the volumes but mostly it’s very heavy. I wouldn’t recommend reading this to pass the time. There are a lot of triggers and WTF moments but the characters are so thought out that you get drawn in. We have not just one romance but multiple. I’m talking nobody is shy about hooking up or falling in/out of love. You have petty rivalries over music and men, Unrequited loves, heartbreaks, drugs addictions, fucked up childhoods, betrayals and lies. Basically everything we may or may not go through in our 20’s. Unfortunately this manga isn’t completed because the author got sick in 2009. Us fans are patiently waiting for something that may never come because honestly the cliff hangers we were left on are legit mind blowing. I have so many questions and so much to say but NANA is one of those mangas you can’t talk about without giving away spoilers. All I’m saying is if you read anything on this list READ THIS FIRST.