By Deb Aoki
It was almost mind-boggling how much great manga came out in 2009, but which were the cream of the crop comics? I made my picks for the best of 2009, and so did the critics -- but what are your favorite new manga of the year?
This year, over 4,500 votes were cast in 11 categories, including three new categories: Best New Drama, Best New Comedy and Best New Korean Manhwa. Thanks for voting!
See more of the best manga of 2009
Maids, monsters, vampires, girly guys, star-struck actresses and confused androids are just some of the characters we met in these 10 new shojo manga series that debuted in 2009. But in the end, the sweet high school romance of Kimi ni Todoke won the most hearts (and votes) in this year's poll.
This year's poll is mostly a battle royale between two manga publishing powerhouses: VIZ Media's Shonen Jump and Yen Press, as these two companies put out some of the most exciting new shonen manga titles of the year. But based on this year's voting, Yen Press titles clearly took the lead, with Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki leading the pack.
Grown-up graphic novel readers had a bumper crop of memorable manga to choose from this year -- so instead of just seinen and josei polls, I've split up a strong field of new titles for adults into two categories: drama and comedy. In this batch, you'll find action-packed excitement, mystery and suspense, historical drama and much more. In the end, Pluto claimed the most votes in this very tough category.
A poor little rich girl, a death metal god with a wimpy alter-ego, a college student who can see bacteria and a suicidal schoolteacher -- could you possibly find a more eccentric batch of characters than in manga? They made you laugh, they made you guffaw, they made you think "WTF?!" -- they are the 10 nominees for the Best New Seinen/Josei Manga Comedies of 2009. Detroit Metal City made a good showing, but the dark comedy of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei claimed the most votes from readers.
While manga is made in Japan, there are creators all over the world who are making comics that are influenced by manga, while taking the art in new directions and to new levels of creativity. Artists from Brazil, Hong Kong, Korea, France, Argentina, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Canada and United States are all represented here -- but in the end, 1520 by Kai claimed the most votes, and took home the top spot for these Hong Kong-based creators.
When Yen Press picked up the ICE Kunion catalog and started featuring manhwa in the pages of Yen Plus magazine, they single-handedly gave Korean manhwa a shot in the arm. But they weren't the only ones promoting comics from Korea in 2009. NETComics, Udon Entertainment, NBM Publications and First Second all gave us manhwa worth reading and buying, but when the votes were tallied, Pig Bride came out on top.
In the recent past, finding kid-friendly manga was a pretty challenging task. But in 2009, both Udon Entertainment and VIZ Media offered a variety of titles geared for the under 12 set with their Udon Kids and VIZ Kids imprints. CMX Manga also offered readers some sweet tween romances and TokyoPop brought us new stories featuring NHK-TV's brown n' blocky icon, Domo. When it was all said and done, The Big Adventures of Majoko got picked and clicked the most, so it's this year's readers' pick for kid-friendly manga.
Ah, the many moods of boys love manga! Sweet and heartfelt romances. Exotic and erotic trysts. Down and dirty encounters in the gritty city. Almost anything goes between the covers and beneath the sheets in yaoi manga in 2009. But with all the lovesick schoolboys, lusty demons, rebellious rock stars and brawny bullfighters in this year's batch of yaoi manga debuts, in the end, ZE managed to get the most clicks from BL fans.
Sometimes great stories come in small packages -- or at least don't require 20 volumes to get you hooked on what happens next. Historical drama, fanciful romance and mind-bending sci-fi are just a few of the kinds of stories featured in this group of wonderful one-shots. It was an ecclectic field of competitors, but out of them all, GoGo Monster rose above the rest.
Some manga are so great, so memorable that they stand up to the test of time -- and come back to delight new readers again and again. Whether they were published by another company and rescued from licensing limbo like Azumanga Daioh! or new editions of titles once only seen in Japan like Swallowing the Earth, it was great to see these classic titles on the shelves in 2009. Surprisingly, Silent Mobius overtook both Clover and Yotsuba&! to claim the top spot in this poll.
Manga readers had more than graphic novels to choose from in 2009 -- there were also several noteworthy art books and collections of manga essays published too. With books ranging from scholarly to light-hearted, Patrick Galbraith's guide to Akihabara life and culture, The Otaku Encyclopedia made the cut to claim the top spot in this readers' poll.