It may seem odd to honor the best new 'old' manga, but here it is -- the Best New Classic or Re-issued Readers' Poll. By "classic," I mean manga that was originally published in Japan prior to 1980. "Reissued" refers to manga that were previously released in the U.S. but came back in a new edition in 2008. This year's winner qualified for both, as Black Jack was originally published in the mid-1970's to mid 1980's, and there was a prior edition that was published by VIZ In 1999.
Osamu Tezuka's scarred surgeon with a heart of gold returned to American audiences, thanks to Vertical's deluxe editions of Black Jack. Often operating outside of the mainstream medical establishment, Black Jack asks for, and often receives huge fees for his almost god-like surgical skills. But he's more than just a medical mercenary, as this mysterious doctor finds a way to mete out his own brand of justice to his greedy, selfish and vain clients.
Author & Artist: Takehiko Inoue
Publisher: VIZ Big / VIZ Media
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In 2008, VIZ rolled out their new omnibus imprint VIZ Big with a deluxe, 3-volumes-in-1 edition of Vagabond. Filled with additional color pages and a few extra features that were not included in the original single volume editions, the VIZ Big edition of Vagabond introduced new readers to Takehiko Inoue's epic tale of Miyamoto Musashi and his mental, spiritual and emotional evolution as he went from being an untamed animal to become a legendary swordsman.
With the fourth and final volume finally completed by Takahashi-sensei, One-Pound Gospel returned with a new edition to bring readers up to speed with this romantic comedy. Kosaku is an aspiring featherweight boxer who has the skills to win fights, but he can't seem to win his battle with his weight. Between bingeing on junk food or starving himself to exhaustion, Kosaku seems doomed to failure. Can Kosaku conquer his urges, or will he find himself even more distracted by thoughts of romance with a pretty nun, Sister Angela?
First brought to the U.S. by Raijin Comics in 2002, Slam Dunk returned this year and it came ready to go the distance, this time with VIZ Media. When street thug Hanamichi Sakuragi joins the Shohoku High basketball team, he barely knows the rules, much less how to handle the ball. But through a single season and 31 volumes, Slam Dunk shows Sakuragi and his teammates' evolution as a players and as a team headed for the championships.
Good-Bye is a series of short stories focuses on lonely and disillusioned souls who endure Japan's grim and poverty-stricken days in the aftermath of World War II, and the period of rapid industrial growth during the '60s and '70s. A soldier discovers that the photo he took in the bombed out rubble of Hiroshima has a dark secret. A middle-aged man decides to take vengeance on his money-grubbing wife, and a young woman and her father try to come to terms with Japan's diminished status after the war.
A darker shonen series from the creator of Astro Boy, Dororo is a supernatural adventure tale set in an alternate vision of feudal Japan. An ambitious feudal lord makes a deal with demons: in exchange for unbeatable power on the battlefield, the lord gives the demons his son Hyakkimaru's 48 organs and body parts. Rescued by a kindly doctor, Hyakkimaru is miraculously given replacement body parts, and becomes a wandering warrior who must battle demons to get his real organs and limbs back.
Authors: Chip Kidd and Saul Ferris
Photographer: Geoff Spear
Artist: Jiro Kuwata
Publisher: Pantheon Graphic Novels
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When the Batman TV show hit the Japanese airwaves in the late 1960's, Shonen King magazine had Jiro Kuwata create his own take on the Caped Crusader. Almost 40 years later, Batman memorabilia collectors Chip Kidd and Saul Ferris brought together these long-forgotten manga stories with their extensive collection of Batman toys to give us Bat-Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan, an illustrated love letter to Batman and Kuwata-sensei's interpretation of this American superhero.
Author & Artist: Tatsuo Yoshida
Publisher: DMP Platinum / Digital Manga Publishing
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The inspiration for the original Speed Racer anime series and the recent feature film, Speed Racer: Mach Go Go Go brought Tatsuo Yoshida's original shonen manga stories from the 1960s back for today's readers to enjoy. Speed is an aspiring pro racer who drives the Mach 5 to victories all over the world. Along the way, he encounters danger, damsels in distress and a mysterious rival named Racer X, who is Speed's long-lost brother Rex.
Amidst the social upheaval of the late 1960s, two young artists try to make ends meet, deal with their parents disapproval of their lives and attempt to keep their dysfunctional, disintegrating relationship together. Told in a series of stylized vignettes intercut with symbolic images from Japanese and American pop culture, Red-Colored Elegy is an example of experimental, avant-garde gekiga from the 1970s that pushed the conventions of visual storytelling.
Manga's eccentric master of horror gave readers more reasons to leave the lights on at night with two double-sized volumes of the adventures of the Cat-Eyed Boy. Half human and half monster, the Cat-Eyed Boy is an observer, instigator and narrator of several bizarre tales of monsters, ghosts and the evil that consumes the hearts of men.