2009 brought us lots of great manga, and 2010 looks to continue this trend, with lots of crowd-pleasing, innovative and interesting manga on the schedule. CLAMP fans and cat lovers will have lots to cheer for, but there's something for (almost) everyone here.
Based on the previews I've seen at conventions, in magazines and online blogs, here are the top 25 graphic novels that I'm most looking forward to buying and reading in 2010. But what's on your must read list? Add your comments to the forum!
From the creative team that brought you Death Note comes a story that isn't terribly supernatural, but offers readers a glimpse into the world of manga publishing in Japan, as two high school students embark on a journey to become professional manga artists.
Can't wait that long to get into Bakuman? No worries -- the series will start appearing in the pages of Shonen Jump magazine in the May 2010 issue.
An adorable kitten gets separated from her family, and gets adopted by a young boy and his parents. Chi the kitten soon wins the hearts of this young family, but there's just one problem: they live in an apartment that strictly forbids pets.
Chi's Sweet Home has been a fan-favorite for a while, thanks to the super-cute and fun anime clips now featured on Crunchyroll.com. Now American manga readers (and cat lovers) of all ages will get a chance to enjoy this wonderful manga, in full-color, just like the Japanese edition.
3. Black Butler
Despite his youth, Ciel Phantomhive is the head of the very rich and powerful Phantomhive family. Attending to his every wish is his butler Sebastian, a cool, dark and handsome manservant. No request is too big and no crisis is too vexing for Sebastian to handle; he seems perfect -- maybe too perfect?
Gorgeously Goth and sumptuously drawn with just a dash of wicked dark humor, Black Butler has been on many most-wanted lists for a while. Yen Press made fans happy when it started serialized Yana Toboso's series in the pages of Yen Plus, and will please many more when the first graphic novel comes out.
Natsume's classmates think he's kind of shy and jumpy -- but what they don't know is that Natsume can see yokai, mischievous and sometimes dangerous spirits and creatures. When he discovers that his grandmother had the same abilities, and used it to create a "Book of Friends" that bound yokai to do her bidding, Natsume decides to free the yokai in the book -- provided they don't eat him first.
Also known as Natsume Yujincho, this charming slice-of-life supernatural comedy has already inspired a popular anime series. A fun addition to the Shojo Beat family!
Hanato Kobato is a cute and sweet young girl on a mission to help other heartbroken souls. Once she's made things better for each person she encounters, Hanato puts their suffering into a bottle that must be filled before she can get her own wish granted. Helping (?) her is a smart alecky blue dog who tends to nag and browbeat her. Boy, this wish better be a doozy.
From the creators of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, xxxHolic and Magic Knight Rayearth, KOBATO. is one title that CLAMP connoisseurs have been clamoring for. Just to make it extra fun, Yen Press is releasing both Volumes 1 and 2 in May 2010.
A group of 15 kids are playing near the seashore when they discover a cave and a strange man who asks them if they'd like to play a game. The "game" requires that each kid take turns controlling a giant robot to battle immense alien creatures. At first, it seems cool to manipulate something so large and powerful -- but the kids soon realize that the game has very high stakes.
Currently serialized on VIZ Media's SigIKKI website, the collected graphic novel edition of Bokurano: Ours is a pick hit for readers who are ready to have their minds blown by this creepy yet compelling sci-fi series.
7. Peepo Choo
Take a masked assassin and the American pop-culture obsessed yakuza mobster he's out to kill, mix in an anime-obsessed American otaku, a busty model and many more cracked-out characters, and you have Peepo Choo, American expat artist Felipe Smith's twisted tale of East meets West culture clashes taken to its most outrageous extremes.
Some may remember Smith's TokyoPop series, M.B.Q -- but with Peepo Choo he's taken things to a whole 'nother level. Smith is currently pumping out this series for Morning 2 magazine in Japan, and now Vertical is bringing Smith's latest series back to the U.S. for all of us to enjoy.
8. Deadman Wonderland
A massive earthquake sinks most of Tokyo under the sea. Miraculously, young Ganta survives the disaster, but lives to endure something more horrifying. Years after the quake, a man in red appears at Ganta's classroom, slaughters all of his classmates and disappears. Ganta is blamed for the murders, and sentenced to life imprisonment at a Tokyo prison colony/tourist attraction called "Deadman Wonderland."
If you love dark, violent and mind-blowing sci-fi, Deadman Wonderland just might be the ride you've been waiting for. Check out the video trailer for a taste of what's in store.
Author and Artist: Maruo Suehiro
Publisher: Last Gasp
Release Date: Winter 2010
As gorgeous as it is grotesque, the art of Maruo Suehiro has long been a cult favorite of horror and comics connoisseurs in the know. But his artwork is so extreme, few of his stories have been translated into English, and what little that has been published has gone out of print -- until now. The team that brought you Tokyo Zombie is back to bring you this Japanese horror manga masterpiece.
The Strange Tale of Panorama Island is based on a novella by Japanese mystery author Edogawa Rampo. A scheming sci-fi author takes advantage of his resemblance to a rich but recently-deceased acquaintance to hatch his plan of deception and decadence.
Author and Artist: Usamaru Furuya
Publisher: CMX Manga
Release Date: September 2010
What happens when a college student is reunited with a classmate / now Gothic Lolita after a devastating earthquake? You get a compelling thriller depicting a city that descends into chaos that's just that much more chilling because it's true to life.
51 Ways to Save Her is more than a disaster/horror story -- it tells readers what to expect in major disaster and how to survive when buildings and social order have collapsed.
UPDATE: With the end of CMX Manga in July 2010, this title was pulled from the 2010 release schedule.