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Critics' Choice: Best Manga of 2009

Round-up of 2009's Best Manga As Picked By Comics Critics Across the Web

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I already posted my Best New Manga of 2009 and Best Continuing Manga of 2009 lists, but which new graphic novels made the cut on other critics' lists?

Here's a round-up of this year's standout new manga releases, as selected by over 30 comics and manga critics across the web. The titles are listed in order of popularity -- the ones that got the most mentions are listed first. I'll be updating this as more lists go live, so check back to see how your favorite fares in the next few weeks!

A Drifting Life - 19 critics' lists

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

Author and Artist: Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Compare prices for A Drifting Life

  • "...fascinating memoir of emotional and professional growth -- by one of the great manga masters."
    - Dan Kois, New York Magazine

Also selected by:
USA Today (Whitney Matheson); Publishers Weekly; Pop Culture Shock (Erin Finnegan, Connie C., Sam Kusek); Comics Worth Reading (Johanna Draper Carlson); Forbidden Planet (Wim Lockefeer); The Japan Times; Comics and More; The Oklahoman (Matt Price); Amazon.com; Anime Almanac; Daily Cross-Hatch (John Porcellino. Jeff Newelt, Robin McConnell, Cat Garza, Shaenon Garrity); Precocious Curmudgeon (David Welsh); Read About Comics (Greg McElhatton); About.com

Pluto - 19 critics' lists

Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka Volume 1  by Naoki Urasawa, from VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
© 2004 Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts, Takashi NAGASAKI, Tezuka Productions All rights reserved.

Author and Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Pluto Vol. 1

  • "A tense mystery, an unsettling science fiction tale and a subtle exploration of what it means to be human."
    - Publishers' Weekly
  • "Hands down, the best manga of the year."
    - David Brothers, Comics Alliance

Also selected by:
Comics Worth Reading; The Manga Critic (Katherine Dacey); Pop Culture Shock (Erin Finnegan, Grant Goodman, Melinda Beasi, Michelle Smith); Comics and More; Anime Almanac; Daily Cross-Hatch (Dustin Harbin, Joe Keatinge); Precocious Curmudgeon (David Welsh); School Library Journal (Snow Wildsmith, Eva Volin); MangaBlog (Brigid Alverson); Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Jason Yadao); Anime Vice; About.com.

20th Century Boys - 11 critics' lists

20th Century Boys Volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa, a seinen manga series from VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
© 2000 Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts; With the cooperation of Takashi NAGASAKI. All rights reserved.

Author and Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
Compare prices for 20th Century Boys Vol. 1

  • "A creepy mystery wrapped in a story of middle-aged ennui, as a failed rock musician reunites with his childhood friends to save the world."
    - Dan Kois, New York Magazine

Also selected by:
Comics Worth Reading; Pop Culture Shock (Erin Finnegan); Precocious Curmudgeon (David Welsh); Forbidden Planet (Rob Jackson); Comics and More; Anime Almanac; Mecha Mecha Media (John Thomas); Anime Vice; Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Jason Yadao); About.com.

Detroit Metal City - 8 critics' lists (tie)

DMC: Detroit Metal City Volume 1 by Kiminori Wakasugi, a seinen manga series published by VIZ Media
© Kiminori Wakasugi 2006 / HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

Author and Artist: Kiminori Wakatsugi
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
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  • "It's crass. It's silly. It's just wrong. This manga title may not land on a lot of top 10 lists this year, but it should."
    - Whitney Matheson, USA Today
  • "Rude, raunchy, and quite possibly the funniest title VIZ has licensed since Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga."
    - Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic

Also selected by:
Pop Culture Shock (Erin Finnegan, Phil Guie); Precocious Curmudgeon (David Welsh); I ♥ Manga (Lorena Nava Ruggero); Mecha Mecha Media (John Thomas); Anime Vice.

Oishinbo - 8 critics' lists (tie)

Oishinbo Ala Carte Volume 1 by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki, published by  VIZ Signature Manga
OISHINBO A LA CARTE © Tetsu KARIYA, Akira HANASAKI / Shogakukan Inc.

Author: Tetsu Kariya
Artist: Akira Hanasaki
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Oishinbo Ala Carte: Japanese Cuisine

  • "...(Oishinbo has) completely changed the way I think about Japanese cuisine... they're a must-read for every foodie."
    - Whitney Matheson, USA Today
  • "...this educational, entertaining series explores Japanese cuisine at its most refined and its most basic."
    - Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic

Also selected by:
Comics Worth Reading; Pop Culture Shock (Erin Finnegan, Sam Kusek); Precocious Curmudgeon (David Welsh); Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Jason Yadao); About.com

Yotsuba&! - 8 critics' lists (tie)

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

Author and Artist: Kiyohiko Azuma
Publisher: Yen Press
Compare prices for Yotsuba&! Vol. 1

  • "It’s still one of the funniest, freshest comics around, following a green-haired girl as she experiences the world’s many wonders, from riding a bike to running errands."
    - David Welsh, Precocious Curmudgeon
  • "Yostuba&! is pure happiness bound between two glossy covers."
    - Grant Goodman, Pop Culture Shock

Also selected by:
Pop Culture Shock (Erin Finnegan, Melinda Beasi); Comics and More; Anime Vice; Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Jason Yadao); About.com.

Ooku: The Inner Chambers - 6 critics' lists

Ooku: The Inner Chambers Volume 1  by Fumi Yoshinaga from VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
© Fumi Yoshinaga 2005 / HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

Author and Artist: Fumi Yoshinaga
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Ooku Vol. 1

  • " Fumi Yoshinaga hits new heights of achievement and insight with this story of a male harem in historical Japan. Beautiful and heart-breaking."
    - Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading

Also selected by:
Pop Culture Shock (Erin Finnegan, Melinda Beasi); Precocious Curmudgeon (David Welsh); Anime Vice; About.com.

GoGo Monster - 5 critics' lists (tie)

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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  • "Matsumoto’s stark, primitive style suits the material perfectly, inoculating Gogo Monster against the sentimentality that imaginary friends and childhood fears inspire in so many authors."
    - Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic
  • "It's the kind of book that sent shivers up my spine, with some nightmarish images that won't soon be forgotten."
    - Dave Ferraro, Comics and More

Also selected by:
Pop Culture Shock (Erin Finnegan); Precocious Curmudgeon (David Welsh); About.com.

Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu - 5 critics' lists (tie)

Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu Vol. 1
© Junko Mizuno

Author and Artist: Junko Mizuno
Publisher: Last Gasp
Compare prices for Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu Vol. 1

  • "Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu is poignant, a perversely sweet and sad meditation on one small, sheep-like alien’s efforts to find his place in the universe."
    - Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic
  • "It’s a profane, hilarious look at the intersection of sex, love and obsession from the perspective of a sentient space ovary."
    - David Welsh, Precocious Curmudgeon

Also selected by:
Pop Culture Shock (Erin Finnegan); Anime Almanac; About.com

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei - 5 critics' lists (tie)

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Volume 1 by Koji Kumeta from Del Rey Manga
© Koji Kumeta, KODANSHA Ltd.

Author and Artist: Koji Kumeta
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Compare prices for Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Vol. 1

  • Beyond being a master class in the art and science of translation, this is a very funny book."
    - David Welsh, Precocious Curmudgeon

Also selected by: Comics Worth Reading; Pop Culture Shock (Melinda Beasi); Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Jason Yadao); Anime Almanac.

Children of the Sea - 4 critics' lists (tie)

Children of the Sea Volume 1 by Daisuke Igarashi from VIZ Signature / VIZ Media / Shueisha Inc.
KAIJU NO KODOMO © Daisuke IGARASHI / Shogakukan Inc.

Author and Artist: Daisuke Igarashi
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Children of the Sea Vol. 1

  • "... a contemporary environmental fable with absolutely immersive artwork and subdued storytelling all around."
    - David Welsh, Precocious Curmudgeon
  • "Eerie and poetic."
    - Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic

Also selected by:
School Library Journal (Snow Wildsmith); About.com.

Red Snow - 4 critics' lists (tie)

Red Snow
© Susumu Katsumata

Author and Artist: Susumu Katsumata
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly (US)
Compare prices for Red Snow

  • "Katsumata’s drawings of farmers, woodcutters, and drunken monks have a rude vigor that reflects the resilience of his characters."
    - Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic

Also selected by:
Comics and More, Precocious Curmudgeon, About.com.

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