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2008 Best Manga List - Continuing Series

The Best Manga, Magazines, Books and 2 "Worst Manga" Picks

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After paying tribute to 2008's Best New Manga, I wanted to spotlight manga that aren't exactly new, but deserved kudos for consistently delivering great stories that kept me coming back for more.

Check out my picks for the best continuing shojo, seinen, josei, and shonen manga, plus the best manga magazine, two manga books and a manga series that got the dubious honor of the first "Dear God, Make It Stop" award for overstaying its welcome. Got your own choices? Sound off in the forums and share your favorites or stay tuned for the 2008 readers' polls!

Best Continuing Manga - Naoki Urasawa's Monster

Naoki Urasawa’s Monster Volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa from VIZ Media
© Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts. With the cooperation of Takashi NAGASAKI
Author and Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
Visit VIZ Media's Monster page
Read a review of Monster Volume 1
Compare prices for Monster Volume 1

A gifted neurosurgeon saves a young boy from certain death from a gunshot wound to the head. But years later, Dr. Kenzo Tenma discovers that he saved the life of Johan, a handsome, charismatic and twisted 'monster' of a man.

After gaining the attention of manga critics and comics fans and earning a few Eisner Award nominations along the way, Naoki Urasawa's Monster finally wrapped up its 18-volume run in December 2008. This multi-layered suspense series can be a little hard to follow, but it's also a satisfying mystery that stands up to repeat reading.

Best Continuing Shonen Manga - Eyeshield 21

Eyeshield 21 Volume 1 by Riichiro Inagaki and Yusuke Murata, published by VIZ Media / Shueisha
© Riichiro Inagaki, Yusuke Murata
Author: Riichiro Inagaki
Artist: Yusuke Murata
Publisher: Shonen Jump Manga / VIZ Media
Visit VIZ Media's Eyeshield 21 page
Compare prices for Eyeshield 21 Volume 1

Puny Sena Kobayakawa starts high school as the guy least likely -- least likely to stand out and least likely to be a superstar athlete. But years of being everyone's errand boy has made Sena into an agile, super-fast sprinter and the Deimon Devil Bats' secret weapon, a running back known only as Eyeshield 21.

Often eclipsed by the ninja hijinks of Naruto and the Soul Reaper swordfights of Bleach, Eyeshield 21 came into its own this year, as the Devil Bats clawed their way into the Kanto Championships with lots of nail-biting cliffhangers and exciting sports action.

Best Continuing Shojo Manga - Skip Beat

Skip Beat! Volume 1 by Yoshiki Nakamura, a shojo manga published by Shojo Beat / VIZ Media
© Yoshiki Nakamura 2002 / HAKUSENSHA, Inc.
Author and Artist: Yoshiki Nakamura
Publisher: Shojo Beat Manga / VIZ Media
Visit Shojo Beat's Skip Beat page
Compare prices for Skip Beat Volume 1

When plain Jane Kyoko Mogami moves to Tokyo to be with her childhood crush Sho, she's crushed to find out he's been using her as his servant while he pursues his dreams of top 40 superstardom. After being slapped with this betrayal, Kyoko doesn't just get mad, she's out to get even as she tries to become a celebrity who will outshine Sho.

With its offbeat heroine, hunky hunks and compelling plot twists, Skip Beat mixes celebrity glamour, screwball comedy and sizzling romance. It's a surprisingly addictive shojo manga series that just gets better with each volume.

Best Continuing Seinen Manga - Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 1
© Eiji Otsuka, © Housui Yamazaki
Author: Eiji Otsuka
Artist: Housui Yamazaki
Publisher: Dark Horse
Visit Dark Horse's Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service page
Compare prices for Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 1

A group of Buddhist seminary students discover that their college major doesn’t leave them with a lot of lucrative job options after graduation. But like a morbid version of the Power Rangers, the five unemployed grads join forces and psychic abilities to help the dead get justice from beyond the grave.

A horror comic like no other, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is full of M-for-Mature-rated violence and gore, but serves it up with irreverent wit and some of the most exhaustive translation notes you'll ever find in American manga.

Best Continuing All Ages Manga - Hikaru no Go

Hikaru no Go Volume 2 by Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata, published by  Shonen Jump Manga / VIZ Media
© 1998 by Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA Inc.
Author: Yumi Hotta
Artist: Takeshi Obata
Publisher: Shonen Jump Manga / VIZ Media
Visit Shonen Jump's Hikaru No Go page
Compare prices for Hikaru No Go Volume 1

Sixth grader Hikaru finds a Go board in his grandfather's attic, and unwittingly awakens Fujiwara-no-Sai, the spirit of a Heian nobleman who was once the Emperor's go instructor. With Sai guiding him, Hikaru take up this traditional game of strategy and quickly rises up in the ranks, astounding players who are much older than he is.

Given that most American manga readers have never heard of, much less played Go, Hikaru no Go pulls off a pretty amazing feat: it makes a complex game as fun, exciting and accessible as any competitive sport and does it as a kid-friendly comic too.

Best Continuing Josei Manga - Nana

Nana Volume 1 by Ai Yazawa from Shojo Beat Manga / VIZ Media
© 1999 by Yazawa Manga Seisakusho / SHUEISHA Inc.
Author and Artist: Ai Yazawa
Publisher: Shojo Beat Manga / VIZ Media
Visit Shojo Beat's Nana page
Compare prices for Nana Volume 1

Two very different girls named Nana meet and share a 7th floor walk-up apartment in Tokyo. Nana Osaki is a rock diva who is laser-focused on hitting the top of the charts. Nana Komatsu is a sweet and slightly ditzy twenty-something who's looking for love in all the wrong places.

After leaving the pages of Shojo Beat magazine, Nana 'grew up' almost overnight. The plot twists got more dramatic, the love scenes went from sweet to sizzling, and all the while, Yazawa-sensei gave us page after page of fashionable fabulosity that had me wishing I could move to Tokyo too.

Best Continuing Original English Manga - Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives

Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives Volume 1 by Ellen Schreiber and rem from TokyoPop
© 2007 Ellen Schreiber, © 2007 by TOKYOPOP Inc. and HarperCollins Publishers
Author: Ellen Schrieber
Artist: rem
Publisher: TokyoPop
Compare prices for Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives Volume 1

As part of TokyoPop's partnership with Harper Collins, Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives brought together a bestselling young adult novel author, an up-and-coming manga creator and vampires in a teen-friendly comics concoction for the Twilight generation.

While Schrieber's story was no where near as yummy or sexy as Vampire Knight, rem's artwork showed that she's got the artistic chops that earned her top honors in Japan's Morning International Manga Competition.

Best Continuing Classic Manga (tie) - Swan

Swan Volume 1 by Kyoko Ariyoshi, published by CMX Manga / Akita Publishing Co. Ltd.
© Kyoko Ariyoshi / Akita Publishing Co. Ltd.
Author and Artist: Kyoko Ariyoshi
Publisher: CMX Manga
Visit CMX Manga's Swan page
Compare prices for Swan Volume 1

Masumi is an aspiring ballerina who has undeniable talent. But all of her peers and teachers alike can see that her intense passion for dance makes Masumi a dazzling dancer but also a fragile, sensitive soul who teeters on the knife edge between brilliance and crippling neurosis.

Compared to contemporary shojo manga, Swan can seem overly melodramatic and excessively sparkly, and as a product of the '70s, it can look dated. But look beyond the Brady Bunch fashions, and you'll discover that Ariyoshi is an astoundingly innovative artist who can turn a 2-D comics page into a majestic tableau of music, motion and drama.

Best Continuing Classic Manga (tie) - The Drifting Classroom

The Drifting Classroom Volume 1 by Kazuo Umezu, published by VIZ Signature
© Kazuo Umezu
Author and Artist: Kazuo Umezu
Publisher:
Visit VIZ Media's The Drifting Classroom page
Compare prices for The Drifting Classroom Volume 1

A group of school kids find themselves mysteriously transported, school building and all, to a dark, barren and frightening version of the future. As the rules of society, reality and sanity start to break down around them, the kids battle monsters, their ever-growing despair about their horrific circumstances and eventually, each other.

Classic manga doesn't get the respect it deserves, and that's too bad, because in a world of cookie-cutter comics, you gotta give props to Kazuo Umezu for being creator who is so inventive, original and just... out there. And for manga, that's saying a lot.

Best Reissues of Previously Released Manga - Parasyte

Parasyte Volume 1 by Hitoshi Iwaaki, published by Del Rey Manga / Kodansha Ltd.
© Hitoshi Iwaaki / Kodansha Ltd.
Author and Artist: Hitoshi Iwaaki
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Visit Del Rey Manga's Parasyte page
Compare prices for Parasyte Volume 1

When an alien parasite possesses Shinichi's right arm, he gains a strange friend and even stranger abilities. Now Shin shares his body with a space creature he calls "Migi," and increasingly finds himself on the run from Migi's fellow aliens who have turned other humans into flesh-eating monsters.

An early TokyoPop release that came back bigger and better than ever thanks to Del Rey Manga, Parasyte is an inventive, compelling sci-fi suspense series that's just as mind-blowing today as it was when it first debuted almost 10 years ago.

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