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  1. #1
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    Default Completely New to Manga

    Okay I've always been aware that Japan has a really strong industry with abounding quality, but for some reason manga always seemed impenetrable. But seemed being the key word, I've now gotten a bit tired of western comics in its current state, so I want to put more effort to finding some manga to read.

    What would be recommendable for a complete outsider? I've watched a little bit anime. I watched Toonami (Dragon Ball Z, etc.) when I was in like middle school, and more recently I got into the more mature anime on today's Toonami like Cowboy Bebop and Fullmetal Alchemist.

  2. #2
    Eleventh Reincarnation Siriel's Avatar
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    Fullmetal Alchemist is a pretty good starting point.

    But as for recommendations, you need to be a bit more precise. Are you looking for action? Romance? Thriller? Horror? Detective stories?

    Manga cover about as many subjects as literature, so it's a bit hard to recommend something without knowing what you want.
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    Oh yeah of course.

    I'm open to a lot of genres, really. As my handle implies, I love detective stories. I also like pulpy action kind of stuff, as well as cyberpunk sci-fi. Also if there's anything that's rooted in Eastern philosophy (like Buddhism or Taoism) that would be great. To be really specific (and this is kind of a shot in the dark) my favorite movie is probably the Matrix. I don't know if there's any manga like that (something combining martial arts with philosophical ideas), but it does kind of have some anime influence.

    Another shot in the dark - I've also come to really love the "contemporary mythology" idea in western comics, like Jack Kirby's New Gods, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, and Grant Morrison's superhero work. Is there anything like that in manga?

  4. #4
    Cruel and Unusual Sound Silence's Avatar
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    If you like detective stories, you might check out Detective Conan. That's a huge long-runner though, so it might seem a bit daunting.

  5. #5

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    Osamu Tezuka (regarded as the God of Manga, in much the same way that Stan Lee or Jack Kirby are the most revered figures in American comics) did a manga called "Buddha".

    For something a bit more Matrix-esque, try Masamune Shirow's works, especially Ghost in the Shell (the movie of which was one of the main influences on The Matrix).
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sound Silence View Post
    If you like detective stories, you might check out Detective Conan. That's a huge long-runner though, so it might seem a bit daunting.
    Yeah I watched a couple episodes, and didn't really like the premise with him becoming a boy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Melbourne Mew Mew View Post
    Osamu Tezuka (regarded as the God of Manga, in much the same way that Stan Lee or Jack Kirby are the most revered figures in American comics) did a manga called "Buddha".

    For something a bit more Matrix-esque, try Masamune Shirow's works, especially Ghost in the Shell (the movie of which was one of the main influences on The Matrix).
    Both sound good, thanks!

  7. #7
    Legendary God of Pirates Nik Hasta's Avatar
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    I'll second Ghost in the Shell because it's excellent.

    I'll also add AKIRA, both the books and the movie. That series had a big effect on the Matrix and is heavily rooted in cyberpunk.

    Also, if you like detective stories then I would strongly recommend Death Note.
    Last edited by Nik Hasta; 11-04-2012 at 01:51 AM.
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  8. #8
    Blind Resolve Hazard's Avatar
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    Well Death Note has already been recommended... If you want to, try Monster by Naoki Urasawa. It's a psychological thriller/detective story. It's the story of a doctor who chooses to save a young child instead of the rich and the choice predictably bites him in the ass. At least until some mysterious deaths start benefiting him and there is obviously something weird going on and the good doctor is determined to find out.

    I would have also recommended Fullmetal Alchemist because it is perfect for people that are new to manga. The qualify is great and it doesn't contain the weirder Japanese tropes that may confuse the new reader. By the way did you watch regular FMA or FMA: Brotherhood? If it is the former you have nothing to lose by reading the manga. If it is the latter or both you can skip the manga.

    If you enjoyed FMA, you could probably give other 'battle' manga a try, like say Naruto or Nurarihyon no Mago.

  9. #9

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    I'll third the recommendation for "DeathNote".

  10. #10
    Veteran Member El Sombrero's Avatar
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    I know we have very similar tastes in American comics, so I thought I would give you my manga recos based on what little I have read.

    I started reading manga about 2-3 years ago, I read for a little over a year. I really enjoyed it, but I thought I was spending too much money on the hobby, and many manga series are so long that it was taking me too long to finish them. Manga series can easily be 20, 30 volumes (or more), and at around ten bucks a pop, that's like $200 for an average series. You can of course find scans online, but I don't feel morally right doing that, and I have a bit of that collector's mentality, where if I really like something, I like to own it.

    I am also a slow reader, so to read 20 volumes would take me forever, and I found that I was losing interest in most series before I was anywhere near done.

    With all of that said, what I would recommend you:

    If your favorite movie is the Matrix, Ghost in the Shell is a no-brainer. I believe I read that the Wachowskis pitched the Matrix by showing the studio Ghost in the Shell, and then saying "we want to do this for real." There are a lot of similar ideas and stylistic elements in the two works. I have read the manga and seen the movie, and I like them both for different reasons. The movie is a lot more focused whereas the manga is all over the place, but the manga has more depth and does build a more convincing world. My main beef with the manga is that there are so many interludes and the story feels a bit scattershot, spending more time on world-building and philosophy than character development. But the last few chapters of the manga are staggeringly brilliant and redeem the entire thing; I remember reading it, I was blown away at how smart I thought it was. If you dislike the manga for whatever reason I would say give the movie a try since it is probably more palatable to the average audience.

    You said you've seen Fullmetal Alchemist, which was my favorite manga. I am currently watching the FMA: Brotherhood anime, which is a direct adaptation of the manga, and I'm loving that too. The characters in FMA are just built so well; they are very human and likable and have strong emotional ties that make you really care about them. I love the tone of the series, it is very childlike and friendly but also very adult and mature in the right ways, without pandering to cheap stuff like unnecessary violence or fanservice. It's just a wonderful series and one of my favorite things in all entertainment.

    Death Note was another series I liked, although I found myself getting burnt out on it as I got further into the story. The story revolves around cat and mouse games with a criminal and a detective, and while it makes for extremely exciting page-turning, it gets a little silly the more you read. The logic games get more and more ridiculous and I think they stretch out this conflict too long. It is fun though. If you like detective stories I would say give it a shot, it is certainly smarter than something like Loeb or Snyder's "mysteries."

    Berserk was highly recommended to me. It is high dark fantasy. I didn't get far enough into the series to really hit the big character development points, but I could see where it was headed. I didn't really like the protagonist which hurt my ability to want to keep reading. It is VERY dark and hardcore and violent, and all the crap that the protagonist has gone through makes him pretty miserable. The character building is great and convincing but it's so relentlessly violent and dark, and that stuff tends to wear on me. The art is incredibly gorgeous and haunting and it is highly acclaimed, just make sure you are ready to handle violence. Also it doesn't really start to kick in till volume 4-5 or so, so if you are buying individual volumes, you will have to already put down like thirty bucks till you really get going, which may be a turnoff.

    I enjoyed Gunsmith Cats for the art and style / tone. It is very fanservice-oriented, a couple of girls who operate a gun shop and get involved in crime hijinx. The chase and shootout scenes are drawn ridiculously well, the girls are very cute, it's trashy fun. There is very little depth but it's a fun guilty pleasure. Similar to "Danger Girl" if you know that American series from the 90s, girls and action.

    Another guilty pleasure would be Gantz. This is an absurd trash series that is so ****ing extreme that it's kind of addictive in a junk food type way. A bunch of people get trapped in a game where they have to kill aliens to earn points, or they die. The art is kind of CGI-oriented and looks unique. The violence is extreme and there is a LOT of sex. It is pretty much the definition of a guilty pleasure. I think it's complete garbage but it's the kind of thing you can't stop reading anyway.

    The art in Akira is staggeringly good. I didn't finish the series; have watched the movie, and I think the storyline in the movie gets really boring in the second half where it's just all relentless action and doesn't really add any more character development or anything. But the art is so good that I kind of have to recommend that anyway.

    A really good series that I don't often see recommended for some reason is Eden: It's An Endless World. I only read the first couple volumes but I thought it was very intelligent, great art, great world-building, everything you would want. Very mature. Another post-apocalyptic series, but executed so well. I would give that a look.

    Another detective series you would like, as recommended above, is Monster. Very intelligent, good character work. Not as visually exciting as what I usually like, so I didn't stick with it for that long, but it's smart.

    I have not read the manga, but the anime for Neon Genesis Evangelion is like life-changingly good. The first half of the show is fairly standard "boy and robots," but the psychological underpinnings get insane in the second half, it gets pretty mindblowing and the character work is crushing. I was so addicted throughout the second half of the show. It is only 26 episodes so it doesn't take too long to get through.

    That is most of what I can remember that stuck out to me.

    TLDR, I would say go with Ghost in the Shell for sure, Death Note (but have appropriate expectations), and Fullmetal Alchemist, if you are willing to re-read something you have already watched.
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  11. #11
    Blind Resolve Hazard's Avatar
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    Death Note is a case of 'you should have quit while you were ahead' IMO. It is great but it starts to drag on after a certain event which I won't mention because Spoilers.

    A certain part of Bakuman (by the same author) has an amusing conversation between the two mangaka (the main characters) debating whether to drag on their story or end it where it should really end.

  12. #12
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    Looks like Death Note and Ghost in the Shell are musts. Will probably also check out FMA and Buddha.

    Quote Originally Posted by El Sombrero View Post
    I know we have very similar tastes in American comics, so I thought I would give you my manga recos based on what little I have read.

    I started reading manga about 2-3 years ago, I read for a little over a year. I really enjoyed it, but I thought I was spending too much money on the hobby, and many manga series are so long that it was taking me too long to finish them. Manga series can easily be 20, 30 volumes (or more), and at around ten bucks a pop, that's like $200 for an average series. You can of course find scans online, but I don't feel morally right doing that, and I have a bit of that collector's mentality, where if I really like something, I like to own it.
    Ugh, yeah I don't think I want to really invest that much in a single series, but I guess I'll see.

  13. #13
    Eleventh Reincarnation Siriel's Avatar
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    A note on Monster (which I recommend too) is that it's one of the few manga where you lose nothing by watching the anime - it's pretty much a scene-by-scene adaptation.

    And it's really good. (I can't speak for the quality of the English dub, but the Japanese voice-acting was good quality too.)
    Same for the Death Note anime, so if it turns out to be cheaper or not all that much more costly to buy the anime instead of the manga, you might want to go for it. (Of course, you shouldn't buy it all at once - get the first volume/DVDs and see if you like it. .)

    I can't really bring myself to recommend the likes of Naruto or Detective Conan because they, in my opinion, have way too many volumes for what they bring to the table.
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  14. #14
    Veteran Member El Sombrero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Holmes View Post
    Looks like Death Note and Ghost in the Shell are musts. Will probably also check out FMA and Buddha.



    Ugh, yeah I don't think I want to really invest that much in a single series, but I guess I'll see.
    Try your library / library system for anything you are interested in. I realized kinda late in the game (around the time I was losing interest in most series I was reading) that my library had a bit of manga, and then I was recently at a library in another neighborhood that had TONS of manga. That directly solves the issue of affordability. Still doesn't solve the issue of time though; like I said, I'm a slow reader and reading 20-30 200 page volumes just takes me forever, longer than I really want to spend on a single series.

    I suppose technically getting scans online is the same as renting things from the library, but I feel going to scan sites is kind of sketchy, while the library is non-sketchy.
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  15. #15
    Eleventh Reincarnation Siriel's Avatar
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    Any library that has a decent manga section will probably have at least the first few volumes of Death Note. Monster is less likely.

    But yeah, that's a good point. You should definitely check the local libraries before spending a lot of money.
    Suffering is a fact of life. You survive if you find a reason to endure it.

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