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2009 Best New Manga

25 New Must-Read Manga Released in 2009


Best New All-Ages Manga - Leave It To PET

Leave It To PET Volume 1 by Kenji Sonishi from VIZ Kids / VIZ Media
© Kenji Sonishi / POPLAR Publishing Co., Ltd.

Author and Artist: Kenji Sonishi
Publisher: VIZ Kids / VIZ Media
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9-year old Noboru recycles a plastic bottle, and in return he gets PET, a hilariously inept robot who is a bit of a screw-up. When Noboru is threatened by bullies, needs help with his homework, or needs an extra hand, he calls for PET. PET then does a half-hearted job or destroys things, much to Noboru's dismay.

Leave It To PET is pretty much a one-joke manga, but Sonishi keeps things fun and fresh by introducing new recycled robots to help PET or just make matters worse for Noboru. Kid-tested for laugh-out-loud hilarity, Leave It To PET is an eco-comic that's more punchy than preachy.

Best New All-Ages Manga (runner-up) - Fairy Idol Kanon

Fairy Idol Kanon Volume 1 by Mera Hakamada from Udon Kids Manga
© Mera Hakamada

Author and Artist: Mera Hakamada
Publisher: Udon Kids / Udon Entertainment
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Kanon loves to sing, but even she's surprised to find out that her songs have the power to save a fairy kingdom that is suffering from a shortage of music magic. With the help of a fairy princess helper, Kanon and her friends Marika and Kodama team up to reach for pop idol stardom. But the road to the top of the charts isn't an easy one, as the trio must deal with ruthless rivals who have black magic on their side.

Magic, music and friendship take centerstage in this girl-positive, tween-friendly adventure. A welcome addition to the small, but growing world of kids manga.

Best New Original English Manga - Nightschool

Nightschool Vol. 1
© Svetlana Chmakova

Author and Artist: Svetlana Chmakova
Publisher: Yen Press
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After setting her last story at an anime convention, Dramacon creator Svetlana Chmakova takes a walk on the darker side of the street with Nightschool, a supernatural adventure series about magic-wielding teens who attend evening classes at an enchanted school. When Sarah, the school's nightkeeper disappears without a trace, her younger sister Alex enrolls to get to the bottom of this mystery.

While Dramacon was fun to read, Nightschool shows Chmakova having a great time drawing a tale that lets her stretch her wings as an artist and a storyteller. A masterful mix of Eastern and Western styles that is much more than the sum of its parts.

Best New Original English Manga (runner-up) - Maximum Ride

Maximum Ride Vol. 1
Maximum Ride © SueJack, Inc., Illustrations © Hachette Book Group

Author: James Patterson
Artist: NaRae Lee
Publisher: Yen Press
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Maximum Ride is a teenage girl with an improbable name, but perhaps that matches her unusual circumstances: she's part of a group of mutant orphans who have been bred to have wings. After escaping from the lab where they grew up, Max and her winged friends try to live a normal life in the outside world -- but their creators aren't about to let them go and will stop at nothing to get them back.

Mixing Western bestselling prose novels with Eastern-style graphic storytelling can be tricky, but Yen Press seems to have found a sweet spot that pleases both Maximum Ride readers and manga fans.

Best New Edition of Classic Manga - A Drifting Life

A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi from Drawn and Quarterly
© 2008 Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Author and Artist: Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
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Japan and manga has changed a lot since the war and post-war years of the 1940s to years of recovery, rapid industrialization and social upheaval from the 1950s to the 1960s. Manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi had a front-row seat to these events, and he has documented this transformative period of Japanese and manga history with A Drifting Life, his epic 800+ page autobiography.

From childhood meeting with his hero Osamu Tezuka, to his role as a pioneering artist in the gekiga movement toward grittier, cinematic stories for grown-ups, Tatsumi shares his passion for manga in this memorable, must-read memoir.

Best New Edition of Classic Manga (runner-up) - Itazura na Kiss

Itazura na Kiss Vol. 1
© Kaoru TADA/minato-pro, Mz-plan

Author and Artist: Kaoru Tada
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
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Kotoko finally gets up the courage to give a love letter to Naoki, the cutest, smartest and coolest guy in school. But he turns her down flat with a stinging retort: "I don't like stupid girls." But through a series of wacky circumstances, Kotoko finds herself living in the same house as Naoki -- how awkward is that?!

Originally published in 1991, Itazura na Kiss (a.k.a. "Mischievous Kiss") is a shojo manga classic that has influenced countless stories, including fan faves like Fruits Basket and Marmalade Boy. Thanks to DMP, now US fans can also fall in love with this worldwide bestseller.

Best New One-Shot Manga - GoGo Monster

GoGo Monster by Taiyo Matsumoto from VIZ Media
© 2000 Taiyou MATSUMOTO/Shogakukan

Author and Artist: Taiyo Matsumoto
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
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First grader Yuki Tachibana says he can see and talk to 'monsters' -- but are these creatures just a figment of a disturbed child's imagination, or is he the only one who can sense the impending war between supernatural beings who are haunting his school?

Another close contender for Best New Manga of 2009, GoGo Monster is a manga masterpiece that gets under your skin from the moment you slide this gorgeous hardcover out of its sleeve. While you'll see few 'monsters' in GoGo Monster, the tension builds more intensely because Matsumoto leaves vast spaces for readers to imagine the horror for themselves.

Best New One-Shot Manga (runner-up) - Red Snow

Red Snow
© Susumu Katsumata

Author and Artist: Susumu Katsumata
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
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Before it known was the land of high-tech innovations, Japan was a land of forests, seashores and rice paddies, where hard-working farmers, merchants and craftsmen lived. In the shadows lived yokai, creatures of legend like mischievous water sprites and talking raccoon dogs. It's in this world filled with earthy nostalgia, magic and lust that Susumu Katsumata spun his gekiga-style fables for grown-ups.

In Red Snow, Katsumata deftly mixes humor, fantasy and melodrama and wraps it all up in surreal, sensual and distinctively Japanese imagery. A gekiga gem that's utterly unforgettable.

Best Re-Issue of Previously Published Manga - Yotsuba&! Vol. 1-6

Yotsuba&! Volume 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma, published by Yen Press
© Kiyohiko Azuma / YOTUBA SUTAZIO

Author and Artist: Kiyohiko Azuma
Publisher: Yen Press
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Yotsuba is a little green-haired girl who just moved into the neighborhood with her dad. With her wide-eyed innocence, enthusiasm and spunk, Yotsuba immediately befriends her neighbors, the Ayase family, and turns each day into an adventure.

After being in licensing limbo for a while, Yotsuba&! was picked up by Yen Press, who almost immediately re-released the first six volumes with new translations, and much rejoicing was heard throughout the land. A true all-ages manga that readers from age 8 to 80 can enjoy with equal pleasure.

Best Re-Issue of Previously Published Manga (runner-up) - Clover


Author and Artist: CLAMP
Publisher: Dark Horse
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When ex-paramilitary agent Kazuhiko is called out of retirement, his mission seems simple: just escort a girl to an unknown destination. But Sue is more than pretty waif – she’s a ‘four-leaf clover’ with powerful psychokinetic abilities. Sue also knew Kazuhiko’s deceased lover Ora, a diva whose song provides a melancholy soundtrack to this sci-fi / cyberpunk / action-drama-romance.

Clover is the first of several CLAMP omnibus editions that Dark Horse has planned for the next year. If this lovely oversized edition is any indication, DH's new editions of Chobits and Magic Knight Rayearth will also be well-worth the money.

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