Many manga bloggers are putting together gift guides to help people with their manga shopping this holiday season. Here’s my contribution, and I hope it helps you with some suggestions for different types of manga fans that might be on your shopping list!
1. For the younger set
It can be tricky to find good manga for younger readers. For younger girls I think the fantasy series from CMX Lapis Lazuli Crown is worth checking out. If they don’t like fantasy, they might enjoy the figure-skating antics in Sugar Princess: Skating to Win. For boys and girls, Hikaru No Go is a fun choice that just might pique their interest in a classic game of strategy.
2. For the comic fan who you want to convert to the manga fold
20th Century Boys is one of the best manga that I’ve read, and the gripping mystery plot combined with political and science fiction elements will pique the interest of many readers. If you have a fan of comics on your shopping list that strenuously avoids manga I think a title like 20th Century Boys will go a long way to convert them.
3. For the realistic comic/manga fan
The post-college malaise that settles on the group of friends in Solanin is something that everyone has gone through when growing up. The realistic setting combined with occasional panels with surreal images creates an interesting atmosphere and most people can relate to the quirky characters.
Ohikkoshi by Hiroaki Samura (author of Blade of the Immortal) follows similar territory in exploring the lives of a group of art students.
4. For the vampire fan
Someone in the grips of vampire mania may enjoy these two series that are complete in two volumes; Bloody Kiss is a lighthearted romance, and Millennium Snow is a cute series from the author of Ouran High School Host Club. Vampire Game might not be at the forefront of everyone’s mind since it came out a few years ago, but this series combines fantasy, a medieval setting, a headstrong princess, and a vampiric cat to create an entertaining and humorous series.
5) For the science fiction fan
Planetes is one of the best science fiction manga that I’ve read. This story about garbage men who have to clear up space debris focuses on the lives of the characters which is refreshing in a science fiction series. It looks like this is now out of print, but it is worth hunting e-bay for an auction to see if you can pick up the complete series.
For a series that is easier to track down, you might want to try Flat Earth Exchange. I enjoyed the first two volumes and have the next two on my shopping list.
Karakuri Odette is a charming new series from Tokyopop about the school adventures of a female android who wants to become more human.
6. For the fantasy fan
Whoever selects manga for CMX always does a great job finding under the radar fantasy series. Apothecarius Argentum is a well-executed fantasy series about an unconventional princess and her relationship with her poison taster, a former assassin named Argent. The series also incorporates some interesting political maneuvering between kingdoms and the combination of politics and medieval medicine makes the series a little different than what you might expect. The six volume Oyayubihime Infinity whips up reincarnation, butterfly tattoos, secret identities, and show business into a frothy shoujo confection.
7. For lovers of romance
My favorite romance series are Boys Over Flowers and Hana Kimi. I haven’t gotten my hands on Itazura Na Kiss yet, but I’m guessing that this classic series is sure to appeal to any serious shoujo fan.
Venus in Love is a series that has plenty of subtle charm, and the college setting sets it apart from the many high school romance manga being published today. The Name of the Flower is one of my favorite recently published romance manga and it has a melancholy tone produced by the unlikely romance between two psychologically damaged people. I also can’t overlook Shinobi Life, a romance manga about a rich girl and a time traveling ninja that just seems to get better with every volume.
8. For the manga fan who has everything
Why not get them some of the earliest manga put out by Viz? While Moto Haigo works are lamentably out of print, you can easily purchase Love Song: 4 Tales By Shojo Manga Artist Keiko Nishi on amazon. Or how about the post-apocalyptic tale Grey, Vol. 1: Perfect Collection, which has some very unique character designs.
For the shoujo fan, you might want to find some of the out of print works by Tomoko Taniguchi like Just a Girl or Call Me Princess. If your manga fan who has everything hasn’t experienced the wonderful strangeness that is Moon Child, that might be a good choice for someone who has become a bit jaded with the medium.
9. Epic series
Maybe you know someone who delights in long-running stories? You can’t go wrong with shoujo classics like Red River, Legend of Basara, or Swan, my favorite ballet saga.
10. The new trend: omnibus editions
I’m happy about the trend towards larger collected editions. I’m glad I procrastinated buying the single volumes of Vagabond because now I can collect the VizBig editions.
Even someone who might already have the single volumes of series like Fushigi Yugi, Dragonball, Ruroni Kenshin, or Hot Gimmick might like the larger collected editions for the extras included.
If you know someone who enjoys beautiful men suffering, historical fiction, and Wagner perhaps they would enjoy the two oversize volumes of Ludwig II by You Higuri.
Some people might find Clover annoying for too much bad poetry. I think it does feature some of the most beautiful layouts that I’ve seen in manga and Dark Horse’s new omnibus edition might be a nice holiday treat for someone who doesn’t have the older Tokyopop volumes.
I hope you’ve been able to get a few ideas for the manga fan on your holiday shopping list!
As to what’s on my wishlist, I’m enjoying Swan so much I am thinking of going back and collecting From Eroica With Love. I’ve only read stray volumes here and there of Red River, so that’s another series I’d like to fill in. Kekkaishi is another series that I wish I’d been collecting from the beginning. I also am sporadic about buying Black Jack, which is always delightful in its own gristly way.