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Best Continuing Manga of 2010

21 Picks, Including Best Series, Best Book and the Year's Worst Manga


Best Edition of Reprinted Material - Card Captor Sakura

Card Captor Sakura Volume 1 by CLAMP, published by Dark Horse Manga

Author and Artist: CLAMP
Publisher: Dark Horse
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When 10-year old Sakura Kinomoto accidentally releases several magical cards into the world, it's up to her to retrieve them. But capturing the magical Clow cards is more than just finding pieces of paper. Each card holds the manifestation of a magical creature that Sakura must battle and defeat before it'll return to its rightful place.

After the TokyoPop edition was out of print for a few years, Dark Horse is presenting CLAMP's 12-volume classic magical girl manga in four three-in-one omnibus editions to enchant a new generation. Essential reading for any CLAMP fan or shojo manga reader.

Best International Manga Series - Nightschool: The Weirn Books

Nightschool Vol. 4
© Svetlana Chmakova

Author and Artist: Svetlana Chmakova
Publisher: Yen Press
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By day, it's a normal high school, but once the sun goes down and the night guardian turns a key, Nightschool is in session for teen witches, vampires and demons. Although Alex's sister Sarah is a night guardian, Alex prefers to be home-schooled. But when Sarah disappears without a trace, Alex heads to class to solve the mystery.

Throughout Nightschool, Chmakova introduces a vast cast of supernatural characters. But after weaving an intriguing web of mysteries, Chmakova ended this storyarc in a somewhat anti-climatic way. Still, Nightschool is a true hybrid of East and West that is leading the way for a new generation of creators.

Best Art Book - Cosplay In America

Cosplay in America
© Ejen Chuang

Author: Ejen Chuang
Publisher: OpikNerve
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As the product of over five months of cross-country travel, many hours, and hundreds of photographs, Cosplay in America is a lovely art book that captures the spirit of fun, camaraderie and creativity of the North American cosplay community. Ejen Chuang's photographs do what similar photo books weren't able to do: show cosplayers as real people who like to dress up as fictitious characters. Chuang treat his subjects with respect, and honors their passion for the anime, games and manga that inspired their costumes.

A nicely presented, bilingual art book full of photos that will make you smile, and maybe inspire you to create a costume to your next con.

Best Illustrated Novel - Shinjuku

© mink, Yoshitaka Amano

Author: mink
Artist: Yoshitaka Amano
Publisher: Dark Horse
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It's the year 2020, and bounty hunter Daniel Legend is searching for a different quarry: his sister Angela. His search takes him from Los Angeles to Tokyo, where amidst the bright lights and gritty streets of Shinjuku, he discovers a world where vice is a way of life, and finds supernatural forces that are threatening to rend the fabric of reality.

Presented as an oversized hardcover book, it's hardly a "light" novel, but Shinjuku is a fascinating cross-cultural collaboration that is part art book, part sci-fi/adventure/suspense tale. Come for the art, stay for the story, Shinjuku is a trip worth taking.

Best Underappreciated Gem: New - Deadman Wonderland

Deadman Wonderland Vol. 1
© Jinsei Kataoka, Kazuma Kondou / KADOKAWA SHOTEN

Author: Jinsei Kataoka
Artist: Kazuma Kondou
Publisher: TokyoPop
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In the near future, most of Tokyo is submerged after a giant earthquake. Ganta is a survivor of the disaster who enjoys a peaceful life until a masked man appears at his school, massacres all of Ganta’s classmates, and leaves Ganta to take the blame. Ganta is then sentenced to "Deadman Wonderland," a theme park prison where prisoners are forced to compete in deadly games for tourists’ entertainment.

A surreal shonen manga mix of Rollerball, Deathmatch 5000, and The Shawshank Redemption, Deadman Wonderland is a fast-paced (and ultra-violent) adventure that will leave you guessing where its twists will take you next.

Best Underappreciated Gem: Shojo - Itazura na Kiss

Itazura na Kiss Vol. 4
© Kaoru Tada / minato-pro, Mz-plan

Author and Artist: Kaoru Tada
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
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Kotoko has a crush on Naoki, the smartest, most handsome boy in her class. But she ends up crushed when he turns down her love letter with a stinging retort, "I don't like stupid girls." But fate has other things in mind...

With a pair that is as opposite as opposites can get, Itazura Na Kiss is a classic odd couple romance that will win you over with its goofy, good-natured humor. Over the years and several volumes, we'll see Kotoko and Naoki go through high school, college and eventually their twenties together and see their love grow despite the odds.

Best Underappreciated Gem: Shonen - Case Closed

Case Closed Vol. 36

Author and Artist: Gosho Aoyama
Publisher: Shonen Sunday / VIZ Media
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17-year old Jimmy Kudo is a brilliant sleuth who has solved crimes that have stumped pros twice his age. Jimmy's detective work has earned him some enemies, including one who poisons him and turns him into a 7-year old boy, albeit a kid armed with grown-up super sleuthing skills.

In Japan, Meitantei Conan (Detective Conan) is one of the most popular series for tween and teen readers. And why not? It's like Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown with mind-boggling, CSI-style twists. It's a long series, so it tends to intimidate new readers, but if murder mysteries are your thing, Case Closed is worth a try.

Best Notable Newcomer - F*X*T Magazine

F*X*T Magazine Issue 1
© Christy Ljiewski / F*X*T Magazine

Author and Artist: Various
Publisher: F*X*T Magazine
Subscribe or buy single issues from F*X*T Magazine

At a time when the publishing business is moving toward a digital future, and manga/anime magazines are an endangered species, graphic designer Fawn Lau decided to "fix" this trend her way. She got funding online via Kickstarter and launched F*X*T Magazine, a luxe anthology featuring original serialized comics, illustrations and articles.

While it'd be a long, uphill journey for it to be a mainstream newsstand hit, F*X*T provides a classy showcase for a new generation of up-and-coming comics creators who are influenced by manga but are developing their own style and voice. Worth supporting to see where it'll go next.

Biggest Disappointment - Twilight: The Graphic Novel

Twilight: The Graphic Novel Vol. 1
Text copyright © 2010 by Stephenie Meyer, Illustrations © Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Author: Stephenie Meyer
Artist: Young Kim
Publisher: Yen Press
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It seemed like a formula that was the surest of sure things: the bestselling teen romance of Twilight told with manga-style graphic storytelling. Twilight is a massive young adult novel sensation. Vampire manga stories are best-selling titles. So where did it go wrong?

Perhaps it was the artwork, with its confusing placement of word balloons and disjointed panel flow. Or perhaps it was the pop culture fatigue/built-in backlash against a franchise that has already spawned several novels and movies. Twilight: The Graphic Novel sold well, but did it rev up the ailing manga biz? Sadly, it seems not.

Worst Excuse for Manga (tie) - Red Hot Chili Samurai

Red Hot Chili Samurai Vol. 1
© Yoshitsugu Katagiri

Author and Artist: Yoshitsugu Katagiri
Publisher: TokyoPop
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Kokaku Sento is a samurai — or at least that what he says he is. Never mind that he walks around town with his kimono open, a head of spikey hair that only a tube of gel can create, and more jewelry than a Chicago pimp. Despite his slight build, he's supposed to be some kind of bad-ass detective who brings corrupt officials to justice while he chews on chili peppers.

Oooh, how many ways can I say how pointless this is? Smug and dumb hero. Inept artwork. Boring side characters. Stories that go nowhere. Save your $10 and your time, there are much better ways to spend it than waste it with Red Hot Chili Samurai.

Worst Excuse for Manga (tie) - Ugly Duckling's Love Revolution

Ugly Duckling's Love Revolution Vol. 1
©2006,2007 Yuuki Fujinari ©2006,2008 GungHo Online Entertainment,Inc./Will / ENTERBRAIN, INC.

Author and Artist: Yuuki Fujinari
Publisher: Yen Press
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At 225 pounds, Hitomi is... well, she's overweight. She's determined to lose those extra pounds, so she embarks on a diet and exercise plan. With determination and the support of a harem of cute guys, she just might reach her goal... someday.

With its sweet but bland heroine and an array of generic guys who don't do much of anything, Ugly Duckling's Love Revolution has a video-game inspired premise but virtually no plot. Quite possibly the most banal, boring, and unromantic manga series out there today.

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