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2010 Comic-Con Best and Worst Manga Panel

Critics Pick the Best, Worst, and Most-Anticipated Manga of 2009-2010


Best Grown-Up Manga: Pluto by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)

Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka Volume 2 by Naoki Urasawa, from VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
© 2004 Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts, Takashi NAGASAKI, Tezuka Productions All rights reserved.

Christopher Butcher: "Pluto is this dramatically different imagining of Astro Boy that you don’t need to have read Astro Boy to appreciate.  It is the darkest Christopher Nolan-ish manga that’s ever been released.  And it’s so, so good.  It fills you with hope and dread on every page and in exact equal proportions."

Deb Aoki: "It makes grown men cry."

Best Grown-Up Manga: 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)

Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys Volume 3 by Naoki Urasawa from VIZ Media
20 SEIKI SHONEN 1 © 2000 Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts. With the cooperation of Takashi NAGASAKI.

Jason Thompson: "One of the things that bugs me about a lot of shonen and  shojo manga is that it's obviously written to be read in a magazine. Each chapter is semi-self-contained and they keep summarizing the plot from before. But Urasawa is one of the too-few manga artists who writes like a novelist, with foreshadowing, multiple plot threads, and intricate character development."

"20th Century Boys reminds me of those giant 800-page novels by Stephen King or John Irving, which starts out small and turns into a massive story of suspense and drama that spans several decades. It also starts out "realistic" and turns into a science fiction story, which is always cool when an author can convincingly pull it off."

Best Grown-Up Manga: Distant Neighborhood by Jiro Taniguchi(Fanfare-Ponent Mon)

A Distant Neighborhood Volume 1
© Jiro Taniguchi

Christopher Butcher: "A Distant Neighborhood is just this lovely elliptical little story that you can really just read and appreciate, and you can enjoy it as much as your parents do, which is a rare, rare thing."

Jason Thompson: "Super classy manga with very detailed backgrounds."

Best Grown-Up Manga: Summit of the Gods by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare-Ponent Mon)

Summit of the Gods Volume 1 by Jiro Taniguchi published by Fanfare / Ponent Mon
© Jiro Taniguchi

Jason Thompson: "Summit of the Gods is about a man who is obsessed with mountaineering, and who loses all his friendships and human connections -- not intentionally, but tragically -- for the sake of mountaineering. The central character is very cold and strange, so the story is seen through the eyes of another man, a journalist investigating his story."

"Basically, it's a character study. But it's also an amazing experience to read, because Taniguchi captures the experience of mountain climbing so well. It's an unusual story, because usually competition manga are about people competing with each other. But this is a story about someone fighting the elements, fighting nature, fighting himself."

Best Grown-Up Manga: Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga (VIZ Media)

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

Christopher Butcher: "I love Fumi Yoshinaga. I've been waiting for this to come out for a long time and I'm sorry, I didn’t like the translation at all.  I’m sorry.  I can’t deal with this manga the way it’s written.  Everyone speaks like friggin' Thor.  It’s terrible. The story is amazing.  I fought my way through the first volume, the second volume was just too much for me with all the "thee's" and "thou's""

Shaenon Garrity: "Don’t listen to him.  Ignore him. Ooku is awesome."

Christopher Butcher: "Ignore me.  It’s like really, really good, but I just can’t deal with it.  I just can’t deal with it."

Best Grown-Up Manga: Detroit Metal City by Kiminori Wakatsugi (VIZ Media)

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

Christopher Butcher: "If you like that cover, then you'll like this manga. That’s fair, right guys?"

Deb Aoki: "It's hilarious, rude and totally crazy, but it’s going to ruin clam chowder for you. I'm just warning you."

Best Grown-Up Manga: A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly)

A Drifting Life
© Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Shaenon Garrity: "Yoshihiro Tatsumi was part of this movement in the 1960's towards more adult-oriented manga, instead of just comics for kids. A Drifting Life is basically his thinly-veiled autobiography. If you have any interest in manga at all, this is the story of how manga came to be what it is today. It’s really amazing. I'm not the biggest Tatsumi fan, but this one, this completely drew me in. Amazing."

Christopher Butcher: "If you ever wanted to know where manga came from and how it came about by someone who was there, by a still-living master cartoonist, this is a great book.  This is the book."

Jason Thompson: "It’s like Bakuman for your grandparents."

Best Grown-Up Manga: Age Called Blue by est em (NETcomics)

Age Called Blue
© est em

Shaenon Garrity: "Sure, it's about guys making out with guys, but Age Called Blue and Red Blinds the Foolish (also by est em from Deux Press) are not your typical yaoi. Red Blinds the Foolish has bull fighter yaoi. est em has also drawn soccer hooligan yaoi."

Christopher Butcher: "Just so you know, even if you don't like yaoi just on principles alone, you might like this."

Shaenon Garrity: "Do you want to see hot boys make out? Then you'll like this."

Best Grown-Up Manga: not simple by Natsume Ono (VIZ Media)

Not simple by Natsume Ono from VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
© 2006 Natsume ONO / Shogakukan

Carlo Santos: "This is an insane manga, but it's the looping plotline that really punches you in the gut."

Jason Thompson: "I like Natsume Ono, but I did not like this story."

Shaenon Garrity: "I don’t think it's the best Natsume Ono story out there now."

Christopher Butcher:  "It’s really divisive actually.  I read the most scathing awesome review of it, it was just brutal. It came out a day and a half after I wrote my glowing, effusive review of this book, and I couldn’t really disagree with anything that the other reviewer said. It really is just like this ongoing parade of almost cliché sadness, but it’s so compelling. Just go buy it right now and make up your own mind."

Best Grown-Up Manga: Black Lagoon by Rei Hiroe (VIZ Media)

Black Lagoon Volume 6
© Rei Hiroe

Deb Aoki: "I love this manga so much. If you like fast-paced movies full of guns, wild action scenes and sharp dialogue, like the films of John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, then this is it. This manga is it."

"Rei Hiroe knows all about munitions, military history, organized crime and international politics. He wraps it all up in this intense story with a United Nations of low-lifes, mobsters, mercenaries and government agents and makes it compelling.  It's got some pretty whacked out scenes where you have to suspend your disbelief, like when there's a maid shooting up a bar with a machine gun, but I love it anyway."

Chris Butcher: "He can really draw too.  His artwork is really amazing."

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