We paid tribute to the Best New Manga of 2007, so now it's time to give a nod to the current manga series that kept me coming back for more. Here's my picks for the Best Manga of 2007 list, featuring the top 10 series that I'm hooked on, two notable books and one manga I never want to read ever again.
Did I miss picking your favorite? Sound off in the forums and share your favorites.
Publisher: Shonen Jump / VIZ Media
Visit VIZ Media's Naruto page
Compare prices for Naruto Volume 1
The 500-lb gorilla of manga sales this year was Naruto, no contest. Thanks to the anime tie-ins, toys and video games, in addition to its exciting and addictive storyline, Naruto was already one of the most popular series in America. But VIZ took it up a notch this year, and ramped up releases to give us 12 new volumes in the last four months. This helped U.S. readers catch up with the rest of the world to start enjoying the second phase of Naruto, when our favorite teen ninja is three years older and the stakes are much, much higher.
Publisher: Shonen Jump / VIZ Media
Visit VIZ Media's Bleach page
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Often in Naruto's shadow, Tite Kubo's Bleach consistently delivered compelling stories, dazzling action sequences and great character development. Like Naruto, Bleach reached a turning point this year, with the end of the Soul Society story arc and a new beginning for Ichigo and friends, as they encounter Arrancars, a stronger and fiercer breed of Hollows.
Artist: Yusuke Murata
Publisher: Shonen Jump Advanced / VIZ Media
Visit VIZ Media's Eyeshield 21 page
Read a review of Eyeshield 21 Volume 17
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Sports manga isn't the most popular genre of shonen manga, but Eyeshield 21 is a series that deserves your love, even if you aren't an ESPN-addict. It has well-written characters, dynamic artwork, nail-biting cliffhangers, plus a winning mix of comedy, action and drama that make it a series that's worth picking up and sticking with. It's a manga that I didn't expect to love, but it's now at the top of my must-buy list.
Publisher: CMX Manga
Visit CMX Manga's Emma page
Read a review of Emma Volume 1
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Fruits Basket just got more and more addictive this year and deserves every moment it spent on the bestseller lists. But Emma just consistently impressed me with its elegant artwork, fully realized characters and compelling romance.
Mori's attention to detail allows readers to be fully immersed in the Victorian England she's created. Her beautifully choreographed story unfolds gracefully. Each character has a distinct voice, look and motivations, and it all comes together in a story that's entertaining and engaging. Emma is a romance that anyone, even non-manga readers, can fall in love with.
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
Visit VIZ Media's Vagabond page
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A samurai story that transcends the genre, Vagabond is one of the most beautifully drawn manga out there today.
As in his sports manga series Slam Dunk, Inoue knows how to put the reader right in the middle of the action, and delivers fight sequences that are thrilling and never predictable. Sure, there's blood spurting and dismembered limbs flying, but somehow, Inoue makes the carnage look like pure poetry in motion. Vagabond is more than bloody duels; it's also a meditation on the samurai spirit, and what it means to risk your life for your honor.
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Visit Del Rey Manga's Nodame Cantabile page
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Music student Megumi Noda (a.k.a. "Nodame") is not your everyday manga heroine. She's cheerful, friendly and talented, but she's also very eccentric. Nodame is a hopeless slob who thrives in a state of chaos, so it stands to reason that she's attracted to Shinichi, an aspiring conductor who's a moody control freak. Sure, they argue, but what keeps this mismatched pair together is their shared love of music.
With its loveable cast and crisp, distinctive artwork, Nodame Cantabile is an appealing 'odd couple' romantic comedy that just gets better with each volume.
Publisher: ADV Manga
Visit ADV Manga's Yotsuba&! page
Read a review of Yotsuba&! Volume 4
Compare prices for Yotsuba&! Volume 1
Everyone's favorite green-haired little girl made a comeback to the bookstores after a year-and-a-half hiatus, and it was worth the wait. With its slice of life episodes about Yotsuba's summer adventures, Yotsuba&! has the same wry, witty humor as Azuma's Azumanga Daioh!, but breaks out of the 4-koma (4-panel) format to give us full-page stories that are simple, yet skillfully drawn. A book that never fails to make me smile every time I read it, Yotsuba&! proves that you don't have to be crass to make great comedy.
Publishers: CMX Manga, Dark Horse
Visit CMX Manga's Megatokyo page
Visit Dark Horse's Megatokyo page
Visit the Megatokyo Web Site
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Two gamer geeks get stranded in the Mecca of otaku-dom and get much more than they bargained for in Megatokyo. Sensitive robot girls, gamer ninjas and giant lizards clashed and tentative romances bloomed in this online comedy-drama series.
Fred Gallagher's über-popular Web comic enjoyed a banner year in 2007. CMX released Megatokyo Volume 5, and Faust, an influential Japanese manga / literary magazine picked it up for publication in 2008, giving this made-in-America manga a rare opportunity to be read and enjoyed by Japanese readers.
Compare prices for Dramacon Volume 1
Two aspiring manga-ka strive for success in their careers and in love against the chaotic backdrop of an anime convention in Dramacon. This ground-breaking OEL manga series reached a satisfying climax as the Christie and Bethany grew from wanna-be's to semi-professionals, and the romance and drama got dialed up a notch.
It was almost sad to see it end with Volume 3, but knowing that Chmakova's next series Night School will debut in Summer 2008 made the end of Dramacon a little easier to take.
Publisher: CMX Manga
Visit CMX Manga's Swan page
Compare prices for Swan Volume 1
As a classic manga series from the Seventies, Swan can look and feel a little dated to contemporary shojo manga fans. That said, Ariyoshi's artistically innovative storytelling has a lot to offer to today's manga readers. When you see Ariyoshi's depiction of each dance, you can see the dancers in motion and almost hear the music in the background.
There are times when I want to give Masumi, the hyper-emotional heroine a chill pill, but it's Swan's dazzling artwork that keeps me coming back for more.