With so many amazing seinen (men's) manga releases making their debut, and so few josei (ladies) titles, I combined the two categories for grown-ups and split them into two categories by general story genre: drama and comedy.
Surprisingly, with the lion's share of this year's most critically-acclaimed titles in this one category, voting traffic was relatively light. Still, Pluto continued its reign as 2009's most popular new graphic novel for grown-ups.
See more of the best manga of 2009
Based on a classic Astro Boy story "The Greatest Robot on Earth," Pluto is a seinen manga remix of Osamu Tezuka's tale as seen through the eyes of a minor character. Gesicht is a German detective who's trying to find out who has been killing robots and humans, knowing that super-robot Atom may be targeted next.
In Edo period Japan, a mysterious and deadly disease called the Red Pox has descended upon the land. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has been decimated by seventy-five percent. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. Young men are treated as precious providers of life and are carefully protected, with the most beautiful males sent to serve in the Ooku, the Shogun's inner chamber...
Kenji is a rock musician whose dreams of superstardom have long since faded away as he's settled into his mundane reality as a convenience store manager. When one of his childhood friends dies under mysterious circumstances, Kenji wonders if his friend's death is related to the rise of a bizarre new cult. And could it have something to do with "The Book of Prophecy" he wrote when he was a child?
Mihai is a retired hitman who can’t forget the pain of his past. Badou is an "information broker" who has lately had a run of ridiculously bad luck. Naoto is skilled with a sword, but bears the scars of her twisted childhood. And Heine? Heine is a tormented soul who somehow can’t or won’t die. They’re all "dogs," and these are their stories.
Umi and Sora look like ordinary teens, but they have an unusual connection with the sea because they raised by dugongs since they were very young. When Ruka visits her oceanographer dad at the aquarium, she meets Umi and Sora and finds herself drawn to the pair. Soon, she discovers that they have something in common: They’ve all seen a phenomenon they call “the Ghost of the Sea.”
Hiroshi Nakahara is a middle-aged businessman who finds himself transported back to the days when he was a school boy, but with all of his adult memories and knowledge intact. Now that he's been given another chance, Hiroshi revels in the opportunity given to him to do things differently: to talk to the cutest girl in school, to smoke and drink, and more seriously, to try to prevent his father from abandoning his family.
A Drifting Life is Yoshihiro Tatsumi's mostly-autobiographical story of a manga artist born in the shadows of World War II, as he struggles to overcome his family problems, find success and his own artistic point of view in the competitive world of manga, against the backdrop of post-World War II Japan.
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 two factions of supernatural beings who are haunting his school?
On his third expedition to Mount Everest in 1924, explorer George Herbert Leigh Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine disappeared while ascending this legendary peak. Flash forward several years later, when a Japanese explorer finds an old Kodak camera in a Nepalese curio shop that may have belonged to Mallory. What secrets does this camera hold?
In a Japan not too far removed from reality, the government has instituted a program designed to make its citizens appreciate life to its fullest. How? By randomly sentencing citizens to death and informing them of their fate when they only have 24 hours left to live. Ikigami is both the story of these unlucky souls and their last day on Earth, and the government messengers who must deliver the bad news.