The Best New Manga of December 2018

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Can you have too much of a good thing? Not where manga is concerned: this month’s batch of new releases includes spinoffs, side stories, and new volumes of ongoing series that continue to bring surprises even many volumes in—and, of course, a few new Vol. 1s. Here’s a quick look at some of the new manga you’ll want on-hand to read as the nights grow longer.

your name. Another Side: Earthbound, Vol. 1, by Makoto Shinkai and Jyunya Nakamura
In Makoto Shinkai’s film, novel, and manga your name., Mitsuha, a country girl, and Taki, a city boy, swap bodies. Each has to figure out who the other one is and how to live in their shoes, leading up to a dramatic climax. your name. Another Side:Earthbound looks at the events of that story from different points of view, focusing on the world of Mitsuha and her family and friends. It’s a great way for fans of the original to learn more about both the main characters and the supporting cast.

The Promised Neverland, Vol. 7, by Kaiu Shirai
If you haven’t been reading this series, this is a good bad jumping-on spot. If you have been reading it, expect more of what’s kept you going for the past six volumes: cute children using their wits to escape terrible danger in a world where no one can be trusted. The orphans of Grace Field House, having escaped from what seemed like an idyllic orphanage but was actually a food farm for monsters, arrive at a new hideout only to find there’s someone already there. There’s peril but also a bit of a breather before the kids move on to the next part of their quest, to rescue the other orphans and find their way to safety in the human world.

Abara, Vol. 1, by Tsutomu Nihei
Nihei, the creator of Blame, Biomega, and Knights of Sidonia, sets this story in a huge, crumbling city that was created by advanced technology in the distant past but allowed to decay over time—a world that will feel familiar to readers of his other manga. Mutants pose a threat to the humans who live there, so they create time machines and engineer mutant-human hybrids to try to save humanity from extinction. This technology can only go so far, however, and so the story revolves around the struggles between a handful of individual humans and mutants, all set in the sort of lushly decaying city that is a signature of Nihei’s work. Despite the “vol. 1” in the listing, this story is complete in a single volume, and it also includes the short one-shot tale “Digimortal.”

The Ancient Magus’ Bride: The Golden Yarn, Vol. 1, by Kore Yamazaki
You don’t have to be a fan of Kore Yamazaki’s The Ancient Magus’ Bride manga to enjoy this collection of short fantasy stories. Everything you need to know is laid out in the first story, which is by Yamazaki herself: It’s set in an alternative Britain where magical folk and humans coexist, separated by a veil, where streets are paved with cobblestones but the homes have televisions. Yamazaki’s story is a Christmas story, and the rest of the volume is a collection of tales by other writers, all set in this world and peopled by a variety of human and magical characters.

Ojojojo, Vol. 1, by coolkyousinnjya
Ojojojo actually manages to put a novel twist on the four-panel (4-koma) gag manga about high school students: Haru is a spoiled rich girl who can’t relate to ordinary people because of her upbringing; Tsurezure is a nonconformist boy who dresses weirdly and spends time looking at nature. They don’t have much in common except for being outsiders, but that’s all it takes for them to strike up an unusual friendship. The characters aren’t exactly realistic, but neither are they as mannered as those in most 4-koma manga, so if you’re on the fence about this kind of manga, give it a try.

Attack on Titan, Vol. 26, by Hajime Isayama
It’s kind of amazing that this series has so much energy 26 volumes in, but this volume has plenty of Titan-battling action, as Eren Yeager goes up against the War Hammer Titan, Levi takes on Zeke, and Hange shows up in an airship, which complicates everything. As he does in every volume of this series, Isayama sows surprises and revelations among the fights. While this manga started with a simple premise—humans battling man-eating giants for survival—it has become a rich and complex story of politics, strategy, and betrayal.

Goblin Slayer Side Story: Year One, Vol. 1, by Kumo Kagyu and Kento Sakaeda
This spinoff of Goblin Slayer tells the title character’s origin story: His entire village was slaughtered by goblins, and only he survived. Cared for by the relative of a friend, he grows up with one purpose in mind, to kill all goblins. To that end, he joins an adventurer’s guild and signs on only to quests involving goblins. Both the original series and this spinoff are also available as light novels, for those who can’t get enough of battles with goblins

My Hero Academia, Vol. 16, by Kohei Horikoshi
The superheroes-in-training of UA have been selected for an internship program, and Midoriya has been teamed up with two third-year students as part of a special mission: Rescuing a young girl with a special quirk who is being held by a group of gangsters to help them distribute a dangerous drug. This volume opens with the students and the police teaming up to storm the gangsters’ hideout, not realizing the amount of villain-power that is arrayed against them. As always, Horikoshi brings an original twist to the Shonen Jump formula of friendship, competition, and battles, with Midoriya and his teammates using their quirks (superpowers) in creative ways in order to work together against an intimidating array of enemies.

Tokyo Ghoul: re, Vol. 8by Sui Ishida
The stakes are always high in this series, and this volume is no exception, as Haise, the lead character, tries to free his friends from prison while dealing with a stream of new revelations about the Commission on Counter Ghoul and the people around him. The combination of action and mystery makes for compelling reading.

Spice and Wolf, Vol. 16, by Isuna Hasekura and Keito Koume
Spice and Wolf, which exists as both light novels and a manga series, is a great story about a shrewd traveling merchant and a wolf-goddess who travel through a sort-of medieval countryside, combining their brains and supernatural powers to swindle swindlers and set things right everywhere they go. This volume wraps up the manga series, as Lawrence and Holo go all in to take back their territory from a radical faction.

Ran and the Gray World, Vol. 1, by Aki Irie
Here’s one we missed highlighting last month: this series starter follows young Ran Uruma, who is far too eager to grow up and become a witch like her mother—and manages to avoid the wait via a pair of enchanted sneakers that transform her, Big-style, into an adult, but don’t do anything for his unformed magical talents. Aki Irie’s artwork is rich in charm and detail, and the quick plotting wends the story through fish-out-of-water mishaps and awkward romance without missing a step. Sure to be a fan favorite.

What new manga are you picking up in December?

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