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2012 Comic-Con Best and Worst Manga Panel

Critics Pick the Best, Worst, and Most-Anticipated Manga of 2011-2012

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Most Wanted: Futagashira by Natsume Ono (Shogakukan)

Futagashira Vol. 1
© Natsume Ono / SHOGAKUKAN

Brigid Alverson: "This is a historical manga by Natsume Ono. Sold!"

Most Wanted: Ataghoul by Hiroshi Masumura (Media Factory)

Atagoul Vol. 2
© Hiroshi Masumura / MEDIA FACTORY

Shaenon Garrity: "I keep picking this every year I do this panel, and I know it's a long shot, but I love it anyway. If you enjoyed My Neighbor Totoro and other early Studio Ghibli movies, then you'll love Atagoul, because those films were very much influenced by this manga. At one point, Ghibli wanted to make a animated adaptation of this story, but they just couldn't work out a deal."

"Atagoul is a surreal, dreamlike fantasy manga set in the world of cats; cats who can do strange, magical things. It's adorable and horrifying in equal measure! The cats have whimsical adventures in forests and in caves, then something really strange will happen, and then the story's over. This happens over and over in every story in Atagoul. It's deranged, and beautiful!"

Most Underrated: To All Corners of the World by Fumiyo Kouno (JManga)

To All Corners of the World Vol. 1
© Fumiyo Kouno / FUTABASHA PUBLISHERS LTD.

Deb Aoki: "Now we'll feature the manga that you might not have heard about, but you should be reading. This one is from the creator who brought you Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms. This one too is set in WWII, and it's about a young woman who marries a young man that she met only once in passing when she was a child. She moves to a city that's near her hometown of Hiroshima and begins a new life as a wife."

"Many of the key events in this 3-volume series all take place toward the end of WWII, so you see the family deal with rationing, bomb shelters and air raids, and deal with their young men getting drafted into the military. While there's breezy slice-of-life charm and humor in these stories, as you read them, you feel this growing sense of dread because you're aware of what happened to Hiroshima at the end of the war. You can't help but wonder how these events will affect this young woman, her husband, and her family as history closes in on them."

"If you've read Barefoot Gen, you know that that WWII/Hiroshima manga series is full of high drama; lots of screaming and carnage and tragedy and horror. Kouno takes a much softer, sweeter approach to this subject, but still manages to tell a really gut-wrenching story. The third volume just kicked my ass when I read it. Go check it out."

Most Underrated: Breathe Deeply by Doton Yamaki (One Peace Books)

Breathe Deeply
© Doton Yamaki

Brigid Alverson: "Breathe Deeply is a strange little book. It's about a girl who is sickly and ends up spending a lot of time in the hospital. It's also about the two boys who love her, and this love for this girl drives them to become doctors, and compete with one another as they have different medical philosophies about how to cure her disease."

"It's got drama, it's got philosophy, it's just a very good read."

Most Underrated: Kitchen Princess by Miyuki Kobayashi, Natsumi Andō (Kodansha)

Kitchen Princess Volume 1 by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi from Del Rey Manga
© Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi / KODANSHA LTD. All rights reserved.

Carlo Santos: "Oh, again with the feels! Kitchen Princess was originally published by Del Rey Manga, and now Kodansha Comics has recently re-released it in an omnibus edition."

"This is the Madoka Magica of cooking manga! You think it's going to be all cute and girly, then it takes you on an emotional ride like nothing! I was crying like a baby after reading it once. What are you doing to me, Kitchen Princess!! "

Most Underrated: Makeshift Miracle by Jim Zub, Shun Hong Chan (Udon)

Makeshift Miracle Vol. 1
© Jim Zubkavich

Christopher Butcher: "Okay, so here's the deal. I work for Udon, so I'm taking off an hour from working at their booth at the end of the day in exchange for talking about their books for 10 seconds each!"

"This one's is by Jim Zubkavich (Skullkickers), and it's not technically manga, so nobody get mad at me on the internet! (laughs) A beautiful book that's being serialized online at MakeshiftMiracle.com."

Most Underrated: Sengoku Basara: Samurai Legends by Yak Haibara (Udon)

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Legends Vol. 1
© Yak Haibara / CAPCOM

Christopher Butcher: "This is a manga adaptation of the third Sengoku Basara video game series. It's actually a lot of fun for both boys and girls — for reasons that should be obvious! It's like the Warring States period meets Dragon Ball, with lots of over-the-top, special moves. The first volume is available now, the second should be available this Fall."

Most Underrated: Captain Commando by Kotomi Habashi, Kenkou Tabuchi (Udon)

Captain Commando Vol. 1
© Kotomi Kobashi, Kenkou Tabuchi / CAPCOM

Christopher Butcher: "As Carlo put it in his review of Captain Commando on Anime News Network, 'I really didn't hate that at all! It was really cheesy, but I thought it was fun.'"

Carlo Santos: "I liked it more than I thought I would!"

Christopher Butcher: "This dude, Captain Commando, who wears blue visor sunglasses, a ninja, a baby, and a mummy fight against the forces of darkness! It's way over the top, but it's really fun! It's like an 1980's action movie, but done in the 1990's. It's got some nice art!"

Most Underrated: Random Veus by Jeffrey Chamba Cruz (Udon)

RandomVeus Vol. 1
© 2011 Jeffrey Cruz

Christopher Butcher: "This is yet another not-exactly-manga book. It's a gorgeous, full-color book. Chamba loves all the manga, anime and French comics that you love, so he's created a really pretty book. I'd love for you to take a look at this."

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