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Top 10 New Manga from Anime Expo 2008

The Best New Manga Announced for 2009, from Evangelion to O-Play

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With representatives from TokyoPop, VIZ Media, Dark Horse, Digital Manga Publishing, CMX Manga, Aurora and Go! Comi on hand, there was lots of new (mostly shojo) manga showcased at Anime Expo in Los Angeles. But what were the stand-out announcements?

See my picks for the most buzzworthy new manga for '09 that were showcased at AX '08.

1. Tsubasa: Those With Wings by Natsuki Takaya

Tsubasa o Motsu Mono Volume 1 manga by Natsuki Takaya from Hana to Yume Comics / Hakusensha
© Natsuki Takaya / Hakusensha

Publisher: TokyoPop
Release date: April 2009
An earlier series by Fruits Basket creator Natsuki Takaya, Tsubasa: Those With Wings will be released by TokyoPop as three double-sized volumes in Spring 2009.

Set in a post-apocalyptic future, Tsubasa: Those With Wings centers on a couple who are on the run. Kotobuki is an ex-thief and Raimon, her companion is an ex-military commander who once tried to arrest her, but is now her lover. The pair want to live in peace, but there's an object called a Tsubasa, which grants its owner special powers. It so happens that Kotobuki and Raimon are sought after by forces who want to use their skills to find this elusive and desirable object.

2. The Shinji Ikari Raising Project by Osamu Takahashi

The Shinji Ikari Raising Project Volume 1 manga by Osamu Takahashi from Shonen Ace Comics / GAINAX
© GAINAX, Osamu Takahashi

Publisher: Dark Horse Manga
Release date: Late Spring / Early Summer 2009
In this remix of the Neon Genesis Evangelion universe, Asuka and Shinji are childhood friends. Yui Ikari, Shinji's mother, who is M.I.A. in the original Evangelion story is alive and featured more prominently. Rei is a distant relative of Shinji's from Yui's side of the family. "This is a different Evangelion manga, and it's more about friendship and romance and comedy," said Dark Horse Manga Editor Carl Horn. "It's a kind of reshuffling and re-imagining of the original story."

3. Honey Hunt by Miki Aihara

Honey Hunt Volume 1 manga by Aya Kanno from Flower Comics / Shogakukan
© Aya Kanno / Shogakukan

Publisher: Shojo Beat Manga / VIZ Media
Release date: March 16, 2009
From the creator of Hot Gimmick comes a story about a shy young high schooler. The Miki Aihara twist here is that the main character's parents are celebrities - her mother is an actress and her father is a musician. When her parents' relationship has deteriorated to the point where they're near divorce, what's a girl to do when her life is falling apart while the world watches? She decides to become an actress to get back at her mom, who has betrayed her in a scandalous way.

4. O-Play from Go! Comi

Logo for O-Play, online manga games from Go! Comi
© Go Media Entertainment LLC

Publisher: Go! Comi
Release date: 2008, TBA
They first announced it at Anime Expo 2007, and now, a year later, Go! Comi unveiled their long-awaited, top-secret project, O-Play. O-Play is a mix between an interactive manga story and an online role playing game, similar to the ren'ai dating simulation games that are popular in Japan.

If anyone is familiar with ren'ai games, it's all about characters and relationships," said Go! Comi Creative Director Audry Taylor. "It's immersive manga -- the point is to get in there and have an impact on how the story unfolds." Taylor demoed the first O-Play game/story, Dragon Academy, and revealed that there are two others in the works. Look for this pay-to-play online manga game to debut soon.

5. Red Blinds The Foolish by est em

Orokamono wa Aka wo Kirau Volume 1 manga by est em from Mellow Mellow Comics / Ohzora Shuppan
© est em / Ohzora Shuppan

Publisher: Deux Press / Aurora Publishing
Release date: December 2008
From the creator of the stylish boys love manga, Seduce Me After The Show comes a new tale, Red Blinds the Foolish from Deux Press. The title doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense until you figure out that this story is about a Spanish matador (Get it? Red capes? Bullfighting? I think??) We didn't get much more about the plot when they announced this title, but hey, the art alone should put this one on your must-buy list.

6. Oishinbo by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki

Oishinbo Ala Carte Volume 1 by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki, published by  VIZ Signature Manga
© Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki/Shogakukan Inc.

Publisher: VIZ Media
Release date: January 2009
Technically, Oishinbo was announced earlier this year, but it was at Anime Expo that the folks at VIZ revealed much more about their upcoming release of the "granddaddy of cooking manga." Oishinbo is about two reporters and their search for the ultimate eating experiences. Yamaoka, the male lead, has a highly refined sense of taste and encyclopedic knowledge of food and cooking.

As one of Japan's longest-running series, Oishinbo is up to its 102nd volume in Japan. VIZ isn't planning on publishing every volume, but is instead planning on giving readers a 7-course tour through Japanese cuisine, with an "ala carte" menu of graphic novels focused around culinary themes, such as sake and ramen.

7. Maid Sama! by Hiro Fujiwara

Kaichou wa Maid Sama! Volume 2 manga by Hiro Fujiwara from Hana to Yume Comics / Hakusensha
© Hiro Fujiwara / Hakusensha

Publisher: TokyoPop
Release date: January 2009
Kaichou wa Maid Sama! (The Student President is a Maid!) is currently serialized in Lala, and is about a girl who attends a school that has mostly male students. She's the school president and she's known for her efforts to stand up for women's rights. However, she also secretly works at a maid cafe. One day, a cute guy who's kind of her rival discovers her after school activities, and the fun begins.

8. Orange by Benjamin

Orange  by Benjamin, published by  Xiao Pan
© Benjamin / Xiao Pan

Publisher: TokyoPop
Release date: February 2009
Again, these graphic novels were announced at prior cons, but they're still worth noting, because they're a step in a slightly different direction for TokyoPop. For one thing, they're not Japanese, Korean or American -- TokyoPop is mining new creative turf in China and France with their new line of full-color graphic novels.

Orange is about a woman who tries to commit suicide and gets stopped by a mysterious guy. Later in the story, this guy commits suicide, and the story is about how she tries to reconcile this event. "It's amazing, beautiful work," said TokyoPop Senior Editor Lillian Diaz-Pryzbyl.

9. Otomen by Aya Kanno

Otomen Volume 1 manga by Aya Kanno from Hakusensha
© Aya Kanno / Hakusensha

Publisher: Shojo Beat Manga / VIZ Media
Release date: January 2009
Yet another Hana to Yume shojo title, Otomen is an odd couple romance with a twist. High school jock and all-around popular guy Asuka Masamune is on the judo, karate and kendo teams, but he's secretly passionate about cute things, pastries, sewing and shojo manga. Sparks fly when he meets Ryou, a girl who is his complete opposite: a pretty girl who's actually a total tomboy.

10. The Name of the Flower by Ken Seito

Hana no Namae Volume 1 manga by Ken Seito from Hana to Yume Comics / Hakusensha
© Ken Seito / Hakusensha
Publisher: CMX Manga
Release date: January 2009
"This is a sad, sweet story about a girl whose parents have died in a car accident," said CMX Manga Editor Jim Chadwick. "She's bounced around from relative to relative until she's sent to live with her uncle, who's a writer and a bit of a recluse. As the story progresses, the uncle "comes out of his shell, and the girl finds her place in the world again."

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