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Discovering Manga:

PG Rated Manga

On Thursday, October 23, 2008, Peter Stanbury and I launched the first in our own series of multi-media presentations we’re organising about enjoying comics. Discovering Manga focused on the manga explosion currently invading bookshops, libraries and art galleries. My talk invited the audience to discover the secrets behind manga’s most dazzling creators and characters. Manga appeals to everyone and sells in their millions. So how have comics become so massive in Japan and why are their fame spreading like wildfire around the world? How can you read manga to enjoy them at their fullest? What gives these stories such power? What’s a good manga in English to start with?

The turnout and response to the talk was really positive and we’re already lining up our next talk for the near future, so join the mailing list to hear first about the next Gravett & Stanbury event. Meantime, several members of the audience asked for a Discovering Manga Recommended Reading List covering the main Japanese books which I spoke about, all translated into English and available now. So below is the official PG Rated Manga list, with links to more reviews and features where appropriate for further coverage. Happy Reading!

Japan: As Viewed
By 17 Creators

by various
Fanfare/Ponent Mon

Single volume anthology of short stories by Japanese artists about their hometowns and by visiting French artists.

Lone Wolf & Cub
by Kazuo Koike
& Goseki Kojima

Dark Horse

Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s classic 28-volume historical epic about a rogue samurai father and his son.

Astro Boy
by Osamu Tezuka
Dark Horse

Osamu Tezuka’s robot Pinocchio, now being reissued in double-book compilations ahead of his big movie next year.

Black Jack
by Osamu Tezuka

Tezuka’s scarred super-surgeon-for-hire, now in an unflipped and complete series.

by Osamu Tezuka

Tezuka’s unfinished masterpiece about the firebird and its promise of immortality.

Ode To Kirihito
by Osamu Tezuka

Compelling 800-page single-volume drama about the medical and moral issues behind finding a cure for a disease which turns humans into beasts.

Barefoot Gen
by Keiji Nakazawa
Last Gasp

Keiji Nakazawa’s memoir of his boyhood survival of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and its terrible aftermath, six of ten volumes translated so far.

by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Drawn & Quarterly

Dark short stories about modern Japanese society by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, founder of gekiga or "dramatic picture" comics. The third volume in an on-going reprint series edited by Adrian Tomine.

The Drifting Classroom
by Kazuo Umezu

Kazuo Umezu, the Stephen King of manga, created this 11-volume chiller about schoolkids transported to a terrifying wasteland.

by Masashi Kishimoto

Masashi Kishimoto’s ongoing saga (33 volumes and counting) about a feisty, fox-spirited ninja trainee.

by Tite Kubo

Also from Shonen Jump, Tite Kubo’s serial about a teenage boy who becomes a sword-wielding Soul Reaper.

Love Hina
by Ken Akamatsu

Naru is the only boy living in an all-girl dormitory on this 14-volume teen rom-com by Ken Akamatsu.

Death Note
by Tsugumi Ohba
& Takeshi Obata


Two prodigies, Light and ‘L’, play a complex cat-and-mouse game of wits across 12 volumes.

Guru Guru Pon-chan
by Satomi Ikezawa
Del Rey/Tanoshimi

Satomi Ikezawa’s love story between a young man and his dog Ponta, who transforms into a girl, complete in 9 volumes.

by Kaoru Mori

A lowly housemaid and an upper-class gent fall in love in Victorian London, 7 volumes by Kaoru Mori.

Antique Bakery
by Fumi Yoshinaga

Fumi Yoshinaga’s 4-volume story of passions and secrets between the men at a popular patisserie.

by Miwa Ueda
Del Rey

Miwa Ueda of Peach Girl fame shows how a school counsellor helps an "ugly duckling" twin find true love.

The Walking Man
by Jiro Taniguchi
Fanfare/Ponent Mon

A city dweller finds calm and contemplation in nature in Jiro Taniguchi’s elegant vignettes.

Hell Baby
by Hideshi Hino
Blast Books

Hideshi Hino’s tragi-comic horror about an abandoned freakish child.

by Minetaro Mochizuki

Young survivors of a train crash struggle to make sense of a devastated Tokyo, 9 volumes by Minetaro Mochizuki.

by Kentaro Miura
Dark Horse

Baroque, over-the-top heroic fantasy with warped devil-slayer Guts, by Kentaro Miura, 28 volumes and counting…

Old Boy
by Garon Tsuchiya
& Nobuaki Minegishi

Dark Horse

A man inexplicably imprisoned for ten years seeks answers and revenge in the manga which inspired the hit Korean movie, 8 volumes.

Warren Buffet:
An Illustrated Biography Of The World’s Most Successful Investor

by Ayano Morio
John Wiley

A biography of the financial wizard by Ayano Morio.

With The Light
by Keiko Tobe
Yen Press

A mother’s experiences raising her autistic boy by Keiko Tobe, two big volumes so far.

Me & The Devil Blues
by Akira Hiramoto
Del Rey

A fictionalised, fantastical biography of Delta Blues icon Robert Johnson by Akira Hiramoto.

Disappearance Diary
by Hideo Azuma
Fanfare/Ponent Mon

Hideo Azuma’s good-humoured account of disappearing from his family and work and living rough.

Town Of Evening Calm, Country Of Cherry Blossoms
by Fumiyo Kouno
Last Gasp

The moving story of a radiation victim’s tragic decline by Fumiyo Kouno.

by Kiyohiko Azuma

Charming tales of life through a little green-haired girl’s eyes by Kiyohiko Azuma.

Tokyo Zombie
by Yusaki Hanakuma
Last Gasp

Schlocky sick humour and social satire about the living dead by Yusaki Hanakuma.

edited by Katsushi Ota
Del Rey

An anthology of illustrated short fiction and full colour manga.

Red Colored Elegy
by Seiichi Hayashi
Drawn & Quarterly

A classic recovered from 1971, Seiichi Hayashi’s tortured romance between two struggling young commercial artists.

The Secret History of Batman in Japan

by Chip Kidd

Batmania was massive in 1960s Japan, including these original, official manga by Jiro Kuwata, reprinted for the first time.

Yukiko’s Spinach
by Frédéric Boilet
Fanfare/Ponent Mon

Frenchman in Tokyo Frédéric Boilet’s autofiction reportage about an affair with his Japanese muse.

Posted: October 26, 2008


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My Books

Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing

1001 Comics  You Must Read Before You Die edited by Paul Gravett

Comics Unmasked by Paul Gravett and John Harris Dunning from The British Library