The Best New Manga of April 2019

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

This month’s new manga releases include a Japanese spin on American superheroes and a beautifully drawn manga by a Japanese artist whose repertoire includes work for Marvel and DC. Plus yokai, robots, more horror from Junji Ito, a new volume of Attack on Titan, and a new series about awkward teens talking about sex. Let it rain—we’ve got plenty to read!

Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 1, by Kamome Shirahama
This magic-school manga is beautifully drawn in a style reminiscent of early 20th-century European and American children’s books—think Andrew Lang’s fairy books, but with the humor and energy of manga. Shirahama, who frequently does cover art for DC and Marvel comics, seamlessly blends a clear, detailed, quasi-Art Nouveau style with lively manga tropes to create a book that adults will love for the look and children will read for the story—which is actually pretty good, too, although it breaks no new ground. Coco, the lead character, helps her widowed mother run a dry-goods shop. One day, when messing around with a book of magic, she accidentally turns her mother and her home to stone. By happy coincidence, there’s a powerful witch nearby, and he shares a secret with Coco: although most people believe that only someone who is born with special powers can do magic, in fact, anyone can do it with the proper training. He takes Coco to his special school so she can learn magic and undo the spell she unwittingly cast on her mother. Shirahama fills her tale with wondrous magical objects and sets Coco up against a bully in this first volume, but she also clues us in that there’s more going on than just a simple school story. A great pick for Harry Potter fans, manga readers who like really good art, or just about anybody, really.

Batman and the Justice League, Vol. 2, by Shiori Teshirogi
And now for something completely different: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League get the manga treatment. In volume 1, we met a youngster named Rui who had just arrived in Gotham City searching for his parents, missing after an accident. The cops gave Rui a Gotham City welcome by beating him up, robbing him, and attempting to kill him, before Batman swooped in to save the day. That was just the beginning of this complex story, which features manga versions of classic DC superheroes and villains, some startlingly off-model. In volume 2, the villains come forward with their dastardly plan. This manga delivers the same sort of pulpy fun as old superhero comics and new superhero movies, with a minimum of angst and plenty of action.

Mega Man Mastermix, Vol. 1, by Hitoshi Ariga
Mega Man started out as a video game and then became a manga, anime, and an American comic (published by Archie Comics). This collection brings back classic stories created by Hitoshi Ariga and originally published in English as Mega Man Megamix, but in a larger format (7” x 10”) and in full color. This first volume includes the origin story of Mega Man, originally a lab assistant named Rock who allowed robot scientist Dr. Light to transform him into a fighting robot to protect the world from other fighting robots under the control of the evil robot scientist Dr. Wily. Really, it’s just good, clean robot-fighting fun in a new, colorful package.

Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection, by Junji Ito
Junji Ito’s particular brand of horror, which involves twisting some aspect of everyday life into madness, works particularly well in short stories, and recently, Viz has been serving them up in nice, big hardcover volumes. This latest collection weighs in at over 400 pages and collects 13 stories featuring seemingly ordinary people trapped on the up escalator to crazytown.

My Hero Academia, Vol. 18,by Kohei Horikoshi
My Hero Academia Vigilantes, Vol. 4, by Hideyuki Furuhashi and Betten Court
My Hero Academia School Briefs, Vol. 1, by Anri Yoshi
April is a triple-threat month for fans of My Hero Academia, with three new volumes to look forward to. In vol. 18 of My Hero Academia, the epic battles continue, with Midoriya straining to match the power of Overhaul and getting some help from his friends. In vol. 4 of My Hero Academia: Vigilantes, which features a team whose quirks fall short of superhero standards, Knuckleduster is tracking down the source of a sinister drug while Pop Step organizes the entertainment for a department store opening. And we’re back to the main cast in the first volume of My Hero Academia School Briefs, a prose story about the antics inside UA, the school for superheroes. The story starts with the students’ parents being held in a cage over a pit of flames—but this is My Hero, so we know things won’t go too far (although the adults might think twice about coming back to Parents Day next year).

Kitaro’s Yokai Battles, by Shigeru Mizuki
Shigeru Mizuki’s yokai boy Kitaro finds himself in a pickle—literally—when his former friend Nezumi Otoko sells him out, steals his horse, and gets involved in a shady pickled-daikon scheme. That’s just the first of seven self-contained stories in this volume, which includes fights with giant wigs, a mud monster, and other assorted yokai. These stories date from the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Kitaro was at the height of his popularity in Japan, starring in an anime and several different manga series. Translator Zack Davisson pulls it all together with historical notes about the manga in the front and a guide to the featured yokai in the back. This manga is billed as “kid-friendly,” and it is, but it’s also a bit dark and has a lot to offer adult readers too.

O Maidens in Your Savage Season, Vol. 1, by Mari Okada and Nao Emoto
This one’s a little… different. It’s about high school kids and sex. They’re not having sex; it’s still a big mystery to them. But they can’t seem to stop thinking and talking and wondering about it. The lead characters are the five members of the literary club, although in this first volume the focus stays firmly on two: Uptight Rina Sozenaki, who can’t bear to even think about it but can’t avoid the topic, and everygirl Kazusa Onodera, who can’t think of her childhood friend Izumi that way until (spoiler alert!) she walks in on him when he’s masturbating. Despite all the blushing and sweating and near misses and weird euphemisms, this isn’t one of those awful leering walking-the-edge-of-porn manga. It’s a brutally honest look at the awkwardness of teens, and because of that, it’s probably a better read for those of us who are thankfully done with adolescence than those who are still going through it.

Attack on Titan, Vol. 27, by Hajime Isayama
Zeke has been smuggled back to Paradis Island, and now the powerful weapon is in place, but it won’t necessarily deter an all-out war. Attack on Titan has moved pretty far away from the original premise but continues to deliver plenty of action alongside a story of politics, struggle, and conquest.

What new manga is on your spring reading list?

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All of the Coolest Nerdy Things I Spotted in Tokyo, the Greatest City on Earth

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I recently got back from a two-week vacation to Japan, spending most of my time in Tokyo with stops at Tokyo Disney and Osaka. It was seriously one of the best experiences of my life—mostly because my inner otaku was surrounded by some of the coolest, and cutest, things imaginable. Here are some of the neatest things…

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https://io9.gizmodo.com/all-of-the-coolest-nerdy-things-i-spotted-in-tokyo-the-1833584345

Levius’ First Teaser Will Make You Wanna Punch Something

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In Haruhisa Nakata original Levius manga, a young boy who loses his arm (along with his mother and father) to an ongoing war finds the strength to go on after he gets involved in the world of competitive cyborg boxing. Armed with a technologically-advanced prosthetic, Levius has what it takes to become great at the…

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https://io9.gizmodo.com/levius-first-teaser-will-make-you-wanna-punch-something-1833490490

Find Your New Favorite Manga: 12 Series to Pick Up During Our B2G1 Free Viz Sale

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Viz is the largest publisher of manga in North America, and with not one but two Japanese publishers as parent companies, it has a huge inventory of manga to draw from. While it’s the home of classic series you’ve definitely heard of (Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach) and today’s bestselling franchises (Tokyo Ghoul, One-Punch Man, and especially My Hero Academia), Viz publishes a wide range of series spanning every manga subgenre.

Here’s a look at some of of our less well-known favorites, all of which deserve a wider audience—and all of them are included in our Viz Manga Buy 2, Get the 3rd Free promotion, running from now through the end of April (details here). By all means, stock up on My Hero and complete your One Piece collection… and then search out a new favorite series!

Real, by Takehiko Inoue
Real is set in the world of wheelchair basketball and follows three young men facing different challenges. Tomomi Nomiya is a former basketball fan who caused a motorcycle accident that left a girl paralyzed from the waist down. He was not left with a physical disability, but his guilt weighed on him so heavily that he dropped out of school. Kiyohiko Togawa was a promising sprinter until he lost one of his legs to bone cancer. Hisanobu Takahashi was the prince of his school, gifted with athletic and academic ability and a charming way with the ladies, but a traffic accident left him not only paralyzed but in constant pain. Inoue, the creator of the basketball manga Slam Dunk and the samurai manga Vagabond, creates a more grown-up version of sports manga with Real, and his art, as always, is top-notch. The series is incomplete, and the stretches between volumes are pretty long, but the good news is that there are 14 volumes out already, so there’s plenty of story to enjoy.

Ran and the Gray World, by Aki Irie
Ran is a little kid, but when she puts on her mother’s magic sneakers, she becomes a beautiful adult woman with magic powers. Unfortunately for Ran and her long-suffering brother, Jin—but fortunately for the readers—Ran can’t control those magic powers very well, so she gets into a lot of scrapes. What’s more, she may look like an adult, but she’s still a kid and that’s how she acts, even around other adults. Ran’s mother is a powerful sorceress who spends most of her time away from the family but drops in from time to time to wreak havoc. This all makes for a good story and some fun slapstick comedy, but what really elevates this manga is Irie’s artwork. It’s clear from the covers alone that Irie knows how to compose a page, and her draftsmanship is amazing—which we get to see, as she fills the panels with birds, flowers, household clutter, festivals, all beautifully drawn. Viz gives this manga the special treatment, with a larger trim size and a deluxe cover with French flaps,

Behind the Scenes!, by Bisco Hatori
Behind the Scenes is a shoujo manga that focuses as much on friendship as romance, and the setting is pretty cool, too. College student Ranmaru, a shy guy from the country, is sitting on a park bench by himself when he is run over by a horde of zombies. The zombies are the work of the Art Squad, which produces props, costumes, and scenery for the college’s student filmmakers. Ranmaru is quickly drawn into the club, finding a warm reception in a group of creative and sometimes oddball fellow students. What’s more, he turns out to have valuable talents of his own to offer. Hatori is also the creator of Ouran High School Host Club, and she has a deft hand with the art and a light touch with the story. The series will wrap up with volume 7 in August.

Assassination Classroom, by Yusei Matsui
Sure, this series is popular in the U.S., but not popular enough, so we’re including it here. A strange, octopus-like creature has destroyed part of the moon and plans to destroy the earth in one year—but he wants to spend that intervening year teaching high school. In keeping with the logic of shonen manga, the authorities go along with this and assign him to Class 3-E, which is deliberately designed to be a dead end for students who don’t do well in academics or life. The students are tasked with assassinating him, with a little help from the grown-ups; just to be on the safe side, the weapons they use are harmless to ordinary humans and can only work on their teacher. For his part, Koro Sensei, as the students call him, has all kinds of superpowers that make him hard to kill, plus he’s a really good teacher who uses the students’ assassination attempts to teach them important lessons. The whole thing is both a sendup of shonen manga, exaggerating and undercutting many of the standard clichés, and a really good shonen manga that quickens your heartbeat and pulls at your heartstrings at the same time.

Golden Kamuy, by Satoru Noda
A tale of war veteran searching for gold in the frozen North, Golden Kamuy sounds like something from Jack London, but it’s very Japanese. The North in this case is the northern island of Hokkaido, and the soldier is Saichi Sugimoto, who earned the nickname “Immortal” in the Russo-Japanese War because he seemed to be impossible to kill. Hoping to strike it rich so he can help the widow of his best friend get needed surgery, he heads to Hokkaido and soon gets wind of a hidden cache of gold that can only be found with a treasure map that was tattooed on the skins of a group of prisoners, who have all escaped from their confinement. Sugimoto has to track them down one by one, but he would have ended up as a bear’s dinner in the first volume if not for Asirpa, a young woman who is a member of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido. She saves his life, and the two team up, both for survival and to find the treasure. This story is grisly in places but beautifully drawn and filled with interesting bits of Ainu lore.

Nana, by Ai Yazawa
A compellingly readable story about young women navigating love and life in the big city, Nana has been on hiatus in Japan for 10 years, but there are 21 volumes to enjoy. Nana Komatsu is a naïve romantic from a happy home who follows her heart to Tokyo because her boyfriend has moved there; predictably, this does not end well. Nana Osaki comes from a rougher background—she was abandoned by her mother and expelled from high school—and she is the vocalist of an up-and-coming punk band. Despite, or perhaps because of, their contrasting personalities, they end up becoming close friends, and the story chronicles their romantic and musical ups and downs. It’s an intense roller-coaster ride of a story, with perfect pacing and expressive artwork, and it deserves to be regarded as a modern classic.

Shiver, by Junji Ito
Ito’s talent for evoking the uncanny really shines in short stories, such as the ones in this collection. His stories are rooted in everyday things turned inside out: Balloons, marionettes, a vinyl record, all are vessels for the terrifying and the unspeakable. While some of the stories work better than others, this volume is enhanced by Ito’s commentary on each one. Those who hunger for more can check out Fragments of Horror or his long-form works Gyo, Uzumaki, and, most recently, his own take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Deadman Wonderland, by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou
Deadman Wonderland is a prison that’s also a theme park—one set up not for the enjoyment of its inmates but the general public, who get to watch the prisoners compete in potentially lethal games. The games are creatively sadistic, but the alternative, for the prisoners, is certain death. Teenager Ganta Igarashii is sent there, a death sentence hanging over his head, after his entire class is found slaughtered and he can’t prove he didn’t do it. Once behind bars, he gets help from a strange girl who seems to drop in out of nowhere, and he sets out on a quest to find the mysterious “Red Man” and clear his name. That’s all just in the first volume—the story gets even more twisted from there. Deadman Wonderland was originally published by Tokyopop and was later picked up by Viz; the series is 13 volumes long.

Saturn Apartments, by Hisei Iwaoka
The human race has left the earth and resettled in a ring-shaped colony that orbits 35 kilometers above the surface of the planet. The Saturn Apartments are literally stratified: Those with the most money live on the upper floor, where they are exposed to health-giving sunlight, while the lower regions are the dark, chaotic home of the lower classes. The middle stratum is used for schools and agriculture. Mitsu is a window cleaner, so he and his co-workers are among the few who can travel between levels, and they are keen observers of the human drama behind the glass. Mitsu is young, having recently inherited the job from his father, who has mysteriously disappeared, and part of the story is his quest to figure out what exactly happened. Iwaoka has an incredible sense of space, and her renderings of the maze of the lower level contrast nicely with the huge, empty, sunlit spaces above. The series is seven volumes long.

Dr. Stone, by Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi
Dr. Stoneis sort of a high-concept shonen manga: Two teenage boys have to re-create all of modern technology from scratch, after they and the rest of the world were turned to stone for over 3,000 years. It still follows the Shonen Jump formula, with the everyman protagonist, Taiju, who was about to confess his love to a pretty girl when both of them suddenly became statues, and the super-smart guy (de rigeur in survival manga), Senku, who is kluging things like gunpowder and an anti-petrification solution from bits and pieces of the natural world. As more people emerge from their stone cases, conflicts arise (DUH!), and soon there’s a super-cool professional fighter to provide some menace, and of course the girl is revived as well—but romance has to go on the back burner for the moment. Dr. Stonecombines shonen action and comedy with some pretty clever McGyvering and a few actual science facts, making it a nice read for those who like a little something extra with their manga.

That Blue Sky Feeling, by Okura and Coma Hashii
That Blue Sky Feeling feels a bit like a shoujo romance, the one with the closed-off dude who is aloof towards everybody and the transfer student who tries to get through to him. The difference here is not just that both are male but that they, and their friends, act a lot more like ordinary high schoolers than most manga characters. Noshiro is a big, friendly guy who has moved schools several times and has learned to adjust to new places. Sanada, a fellow student in his new school, keeps to himself, and everyone acts very awkward about that. At first, Noshiro thinks he’s being bullied, and when he finds out that there’s a rumor that Sanada is gay, he is indignant. When he finds out the rumor is true, he is confused but still determined to be friends with Sanada. Sometimes he says the wrong thing, even hurtful things, but by the end of the first volume he and Sanada are starting to figure things out, with a little help from Sanada’s older, wiser, and not at all creepy ex-boyfriend. This manga started out as a self-published webcomic, and it has a heartfelt feeling to it as well as a good sense of how high schoolers really talk and think.

Dead Dead Demon’s Dedededestruction, by Inio Asano
The aliens have invaded Tokyo, but it turns out they are sort of loser aliens: The invasion was stopped with a special new weapon, provided by the Americans, and now the mother ship hangs listlessly over the city, blocking the sunlight but otherwise causing little harm. Occasionally a smaller saucer emerges, but they are so slow and weak that one was brought down by a kid throwing a rock. While the aliens no longer seem to present an immediate danger, politicians and industrialists have seized on their presence to promote their own agenda, while the rest of the population is simply uneasy. Asano’s story starts with a pair of high school girls; one lost her father in the invasion and is in the process of losing her mother to the subsequent paranoia, while the other is a junior philosopher who is fascinated by the whole phenomenon. Together they follow the news in a desultory sort of way, goof around with their friends, and play video games late into the night. As the series goes on, the cast expands and a plot begins to emerge, but Asano is taking his time, building up a fascinating picture of a dystopian world, as seen through the perceptive and ever-critical eyes of teenage girls. Asano uses a lot of photo reference, building up complicated, cluttered pages and then plopping weirdly cartoonish figures into them—most of the side characters look more like blow-up dolls than real people—adding to the sense that ordinary reality and the unthinkable are coexisting side by side.

Shop the Viz Manga Buy 2 Get the 3rd Free Sale, now through April 29.

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The Best New Manga of March 2019

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Want a second helping? This month’s new manga releases include a new series by the creator of One-Punch Man, a collection of Fullmetal Alchemist gag manga, and the return of the classic Aria, as well as some new manga with familiar storylines. And on top of that, there’s a new light novel featuring mechas with a side of social commentary—OK, that last one is not at all familiar, but it sounds like a lot of fun.

Mob Psycho 100, Vol. 2, by ONE
Mob Psycho 100 is by the writer of One-Punch Man, and shares that series’ deadpan humor—although Mob Psycho 100 is about spirits and exorcists, not superheroes and villains. The joke starts with the title, which seems to promise crazy violent Yakuza action. In fact, “Mob” is the name of the lead character, a mild-mannered eighth-grader who blends into the crowd (in other words, he’s just one blip in a mob scene). Mob has superhuman powers, and he has apprenticed himself to a phony medium who exploits them shamelessly, but he doesn’t seem to care much. In fact, he is disinclined to use his powers at all, unless pressed to the limit. Most of the time he is pretty straight-faced, like Saitama of One-Punch Man, but when his inner emotional gauge hits 100, his psychic energy goes haywire. Mob Psycho 100 pokes fun at manga tropes—the club that will be dissolved if it can’t find one more member, the endlessly fighting gangs of tough guys in gakuran (military style) school uniforms—so the more manga you have read, the more you will enjoy it. Since ONE draws Mob Psycho 100 himself, it doesn’t have the polished look of One-Punch Man (which benefits from the artwork of Eyeshield 21 creator Yusuke Murata), but the style fits the story well. This month marks the release of the second volume, so it’s a good time to jump onboard a promising series.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete Four-Panel Comics, by Hiromu Arakawa
This volume pulls together all the bonus 4-panel gag strips that ran at the end of the individual volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist or were included with the anime DVDs and various booklets, websites, and other products. Like most manga creators, Arakawa takes the opportunity to poke some good-natured fun at her characters and their quirks, and she even drew a set of “Fullmetal Masterpiece Theater” strips spoofing famous fairy tales. Since all the strips are about Fullmetal Alchemist,the book won’t make much sense to those who haven’t read the series or watched the anime, but FMA fans will certainly enjoy the sly digs and insider humor.

Aria: The Masterpiece, Vol. 1, by Kozue Amano
Aria is a slice-of-life manga set in a beautiful fantasy world. In the future, Mars has been terraformed for human habitation, and when the ice caps melted, the imagineers in charge created Neo Venezia, a canal city based on Venice. Naturally, there are gondolas, and Aria follows the adventures of Akari, who has traveled from Earth (now called Manhome) to train as an Undine, or professional gondolier. This is the sort of manga you read just for the pleasure of being in a particular world. It doesn’t have a lot of action, but a character in the first chapter describes the gondolas as “strangely calming,” and the same could be said of the series as a whole. Aria was first published in English in 2004, and Tokyopop picked up the license after the original publisher became defunct. Now they are bringing it back in a deluxe edition; this first volume contains the prequel series, originally known as Aqua.

86?EIGHTY-SIX, Vol. 1, by Asato Asato and Shirabi
This light novel from Yen Press is fantasy with a sting. The San Magnolia Republic has successfully deployed unmanned weapons to defend themselves from an attack from a neighboring empire, but all is not as it seems: the “unmanned” weapons are actually piloted by the young men and women of the Republic’s 86th District, which does not exist in any public and official sense. In other words, the government has been lying about the whole project. With a mix of mechs, military action, and politics, this is an interesting light novel that goes beyond the usual tropes.

Boruto, Vol. 5, by Ukyo Kodachi, Mikio Ikemoto, and Masashi Kishimoto
After charging through 72 volumes of adventures, Naruto finally settled down and had a son, Boruto. This series picks up the story of the younger Uzumaki, who is headstrong, resentful of his father, and inclined to go barreling off on his own adventures. With Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto supervising its creation, this new series is a worthy match for the original. The Boruto manga initially followed the storyline of Boruto: Naruto the Movie, but has moved on to original material. Currently, Boruto is grappling with a mysterious organization called Kara, and in this volume he also goes up against his father, satisfying the desires of meme creators all over the world.

Love in Focus, Vol. 1, by Yoko Nogiri
Sometimes you just want a good old-fashioned shoujo romance manga, and Love in Focus fills the bill. Mako, our heroine, loves photography, and after suffering a loss, she dives deeper into it. At the suggestion of a childhood friend, she leaves home to attend a new school that has an elite photography club—and she’s soon living in a dorm with her friend and another student who hates to have his picture taken. Have we checked all the Shoujo Bingo boxes yet? This one looks like it will be good fun, with the photo angle to add some extra interest.

The Ideal Sponger Life, Vol. 1, by Tsunehiko Watanabe and Neko Hinotsuki
If, on the other hand, you want a good old-fashioned wish-fulfillment seinen manga, here’s the one for you. Zenjiro is a totally ordinary guy with a boring office job and not much else going on, until a beautiful queen of an unearthly realm summons him to be her husband. If he accepts, he gets to live a life of leisure with his beautiful spouse—but the catch is that there are no backsies on this offer, and he will be saying goodbye to everything dear to him on Earth, including his family and the internet. It’s also possible that all is not quite as it seems, and the queen has some sinister motives. With its everyman hero and gorgeous supernatural heroine, The Ideal Sponger Life is a solid seinen romantic comedy.

10 Dance, Vol. 2, by Inouesatoh
Two “kings” of ballroom dancing go head to head in this steamy yaoi romance. Shinya Sugiki is a champion in the world of traditional ballroom dancing, while Shinya Suzuki is the top Latin dancer. The twist is that in order to compete in the prestigious 10 Dance competition, each has to learn the other’s style, so they agree to teach each other. While they share a first name, the two have very different personalities and teaching styles, so there’s plenty of tension—and tension is the magic ingredient in yaoi!

What new manga is on your list this month?

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8 Manga for the Boys Love Beginner

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

The last few years have seen a growing interest in LGBTQ manga in the West, with titles like My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and My Brother’s Husband connecting with readers and collecting major awards recognition. Yet there’s a particular category of manga with queer-identified characters that is also quietly increasing in prominence: boys love (BL) manga.

What the heck is BL? Though its primary subjects are often gay men, BL manga, contrary to what the name seems to suggest, is not actually manga written specifically for or by gay men. Rather, it’s a broad category of manga portraying romance between men, primarily written for and by heterosexual women. Think of it as shojo romance wherein both characters happen to be dudes, and there are way more spicy bits.

Though BL manga used to be exclusively published in English by smaller specialty imprints, after a spate of recent licenses from mainstream manga publishers like Kodansha and Seven Seas, BL may be—dare I say it?—becoming respectable. Curious to discover what it’s all about? Here are eight recently released and upcoming BL manga to get started with, from the softly sweet to the downright dirty… caveat lector.

Go For It, Nakamura!, by Syundei
Painfully awkward gay high schooler Nakamura has fallen head over heels for his outgoing classmate Hirose. The only thing standing in the way of true love? Nakamura isn’t actually sure Hirose knows his name . . . or that he exists. Sporting a delightfully retro art style that recalls the work of Rumiko Takahashi, this one-volume BL comedy is as charming as they come, balancing the humor of Nakamura’s uncoordinated attempts to strike up a friendship with his unrequited crush with some genuinely aww-worthy moments. If you like what you see here, good news: Syundei’s Total Eclipse of the Eternal Heart, by all accounts much darker fare than this episodic romcom, is set to follow from Seven Seas in March.

I Hear the Sunspot, by Fumino Yuki
Kohei’s hearing disability has always kept him from forming close relationships with others, and given him a reputation around his college campus for being aloof and unapproachable. When classmate Taichi crashes into his life, his straightforward attempts at friendship begin to break down Kohei’s defenses. As the two grow closer, Kohei and Taichi aren’t sure they’re friends, or something more. Both a sensitive treatment of disability and a light college romance, I Hear the Sunspot is a great starting place for those looking to dip their toe in the shallow end of the BL pool. And with two sequel volumes already published in English, you can be sure that Kohei and Taichi’s story will continue.

Classmates: Dou kyu sei, by Asumiko Nakamura
Hikaru Kusakabe, popular guitarist in his high school band, and Rihito Sajou, uptight honor student, never had a reason to cross paths. When Hikaru stumbles across Rihito practicing alone for an upcoming class choir performance, he becomes intrigued and offers to be his music tutor until the recital. But as the two spend more time together, Hikaru realizes his feelings for his classmate are growing beyond interest or even friendship. Asumiko Nakamura’s distinctive loose lines and free-flowing anatomy add striking visual character to this coming of age high school romance. Look out for a newly translated print edition from Seven Seas this June.

10 Dance, by Inouesatou
Shinya Sugiki is the undisputed champion of Standard Ballroom, while Shinya Suzuki rules the passionate world of Latin Dance. With ambitions of becoming 10 Dance champions, a title that requires competing in both five Standard and five Latin dances, the two set aside (some of) their pride and agree to tutor each other in their rival’s specialty. As their dancing heats up, so does their relationship, until both begin to wonder if it’s more than the rumba drawing them together. This upcoming rivals-to-lovers manga from Kodansha is one for those who enjoy romance set to a slow-burn simmer, with heaps of sexual tension between bouts of the Viennese Waltz.

Stray Bullet Baby, by Kei Ichikawa
Murakami has always admired Honna, the stylish and capable editor at a magazine his firm regularly collaborates with, from a distance. When his office goes for after work drinks with Honna’s team, Murakami sees his chance to finally introduce himself. But instead of the genial conversation Murakami imagined, he ends up dragging a barely coherent (and not especially cool) Honna home after three too many drinks. Murakami isn’t sure what to make of his mercurial new acquaintance, but also can’t seem to stay away, and their odd friendship deepens. Kei Ichikawa’s naturalistic pacing, gray tones, and slightly undone lines lend a pleasing softness to this one-volume adult office romance.

Candy Color Paradox, by Isaku Natsume
Reporter Onoe and photographer Kaburagi are worlds apart—Onoe can’t handle Kaburagi’s cockiness and unscrupulous methods, while Kaburagi has nothing but contempt for Onoe’s hesitance and rigidity. The two can barely stand to be in the same room, but when an assignment from their editor throws them together for a celebrity stakeout, a grudging partnership gradually turns into something sweeter. Isaku Natsume’s straightforward storytelling makes this a lighthearted (and a little steamy) opposites-attract workplace romance with a fun reporter/photographer angle. Four volumes of this ongoing series are out in Japan; look out for the first English volume in March.  

Jackass!, by Scarlet Beriko
Keisuke’s best friend Masayuki has always seemed frivolous to down-to-earth Keisuke—handsome, popular, and wealthy, Masayuki tends to flit from interest to interest and girl to girl. But when Keisuke accidentally wears his older sister’s pantyhose to school (a mistake that could happen to anyone, I’m sure), he discovers Masayuki has a very particular fetish that leaves both boys questioning their friendship, not to mention their sexuality. With a style characterized by bold, fluid lines and eyelashes a mascara model would kill for, Scarlet Beriko is a world champion at drawing beautiful men in ahem heated situations (note the explicit content warning on the cover of this one). Despite honing in on a racy fetish, this single volume friends-to-lovers story is a surprisingly sweet read with a memorable supporting cast and easy to root for couple.

Escape Journey, by Ogeretsu Tanaka
Naoto has nothing but bitter memories from his turbulent high school relationship with classmate Taichi, and is determined to start college with a clean romantic slate. All goes as planned until he runs into his ex on the same campus. Despite his determination to hate Taichi’s guts, Naoto can’t help getting sucked back into the rhythm of their friendship, and to Taichi’s credit, he’s matured a lot since their acrimonious split—or so it seems. Ogeretsu’s polished and detailed art, dramatic storylines, and spicy sex scenes (again, please note the explicit content warning) have made her a hit in Japan, and now English-speaking audiences can jump on the bandwagon. The first two volumes of this romantic drama are available now, with the third hitting shelves June 2019.

Have you discovered a beloved BL manga we didn’t mention?

The post 8 Manga for the Boys Love Beginner appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/8-manga-for-the-boys-love-beginner/

The Battle Angel Alita Manga Is An Essential Read

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I’ve been waiting a long time for the Alita:Battle Angel movie, which is based on the Gunnm manga series by Yukito Kishiro. I fell in love with the nine-volume epic, which was called Battle Angel Alita in its English versions, when I first discovered the series in high school. I’m going through the books again, and…

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https://kotaku.com/the-battle-angel-alita-manga-is-an-essential-read-1832627887