Author and Artist: Hidekaz Himaruya
Compare prices for Hetalia Vol. 1
In the pretty-boy filled world of Hetalia, countries have personalities, neuroses, rivalries, and even troubled childhoods. Take a look at the Axis Powers countries: Germany's a hard-ass, Japan is shy, and Italy is a pasta-loving buffoon. Meanwhile, U.S.A. is an arrogant, burger-scarfing bully. England is stuffy but eccentric, and France would rather be a lover than a fighter. And did I mention that they're all very cute boys?
Wildly politically incorrect and unconcerned with historical accuracy when it doesn't suit its purposes, Hetalia is a goofball comedy that your history professor will hate, but your inner fangirl will love.
Author and Artist: Yumi Unita
Publisher: Yen Press
Compare prices for Bunny Drop Vol. 1
A 30-year old bachelor goes to his grandfather's funeral and discovers that the 'old guy' has an illegitimate child, a shy 6-year old girl named Rin. Daikichi is appalled to see that his relatives are reluctant to take in little Rin (who is technically his aunt), so he volunteers to be her guardian, despite having very little experience in child-rearing.
Bunny Drop could have been sweet and sentimental, or silly and humorous — instead, Unita opted to create something in between: a heartfelt story that captures the joys, frustrations and everyday challenges that come with being a single parent of a young child.
Author and Artist: Kou Yaginuma
Compare prices for Twin Spica Vol. 1
Asumi is a little girl with a big dream — she wants to be an astronaut. She's been accepted into an elite space academy, but Asumi soon finds out that passing the exam is only the first of many physical and emotional challenges she must face before she can go into space.
Sprinkled with science facts along with moments of magical realism and heartwarming drama, Twin Spica is a rare manga series that is difficult to neatly categorize in the usual shojo/shonen buckets. While it was originally written for adult readers, Twin Spica is a gentle coming-of-age story that will appeal to adults, teens and even younger readers, age 10 and up.
Author and Artist: Hitoshi Ariga
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Compare prices for Megaman Megamix Vol. 1
Capcom's pint-sized robot hero jumps off the 8-bit video game screen into the manga pages, as Hitoshi Ariga offers exciting kid-friendly adventures for gamers of all ages to enjoy.
In this 3-volume series, we find out the origin of Mega-Man, meet his creator Dr. Light and see him encounter some of his toughest enemies as he tries to prevent evil robots from going on the rampage. Full of action and fun for younger readers, while providing a nostalgic blast from the past for gamers who remember the original games from back in the day.
Author and Artist: Fumi Yoshinaga
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
Compare prices for All My Darling Daughters
Yukiko is a thirty-something career woman who has lived with her mother for years. But after a brush with cancer, Yukiko's mother Mari announces, "I've decided to live my life however I want from now on." In her next breath, she says "I got remarried," and introduces her new husband: a young man who's three years younger than her daughter.
Fumi Yoshinaga follows the intertwined relationships, friendships and rivalries of several women and tells their stories with wit and heartfelt insight. A keenly-observed, melodrama-free look at the choices that modern women make about their careers, families, lives and loves.
Author and Artist: Natsume Ono
Publisher: VIZ Signature / VIZ Media
Compare prices for Ristorante Paradiso
21-year old Nicoletta comes to Rome to see her estranged mother who lives with her new husband, the owner of a popular restaurant. Along the way, Nicoletta discovers that "love can come in many shapes" as she falls for Claudio, a older man who is a waiter at the Ristorante Casetta Dell'Orso.
While many manga stories are like Hollywood blockbusters filled with action, drama and larger-than-life characters, Ristorante Paradiso's character-driven, slice-of-life tale feels more like a European art house film. A grown-up story about grown-up characters dealing with the complexities of adult relationships in satisfying ways.
Author and Artist: Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Compare prices for Black Blizzard
Influenced by the pulp novels of Mickey Spillane, Black Blizzard is about a young pianist who has been convicted of murder. While on a train ride to jail, he's handcuffed to a career criminal. The pair escape when their train derails due to an avalanche. While on the run, they describe how their lives were changed by crimes of passion.
Black Blizzard is an early story from Yoshihiro Tatsumi that he described in his memoir A Drifting Life. While not as polished as his later works, this one-shot crackles with youthful energy, cinematic style, and Tatsumi's burning desire to push the boundaries of manga beyond kids stuff.
Author and Artist: Hinako Takanaga
Publisher: Juné Manga / Digital Manga Publishing
Compare prices for The Tyrant Falls in Love Vol. 1
Tetsuhiro has a raging crush on a guy who is unlikely to reciprocate his feelings. Why? Well, the guy he's hot for is 1) his senior classmate at school, 2) he's as straight as can be, 3) he's homophobic, and worst of all, he's a tyrannical jerk. But Tetsuhiro is in love and love knows little reason — and maybe, just maybe Tetsuhiro can get his would-be lover to see things his way.
With a cantankerous love interest and a sweetly lovesick hero, The Tyrant Falls in Love provides lots of romantic sparks and sexy, kinda kinky sizzle to make yaoi readers squeal with delight.
Author and Artist: Felipe Smith
Compare prices for Peepo Choo Vol. 1
Peepo Choo follows the misadventures of American and Japanese nerds, mobsters and a voluptuous yet extremely violent bikini model as they head on a collision course toward a culture clash; nay, a cultural 5-car pile-up that shines a glaring (and often hilarious) light on otaku obsessions and pop culture misconceptions.
As the creation of an American/Jamaican/Argentinean comics creator now living and working in Japan, Peepo Choo is an action-packed, take-no-prisoners dark comedy that will leave you slack-jawed in awe. As you read it, you'll think, 'Seriously, he can say that?' Yes, he can and yes, he does.
Author and Artist: Various
Publisher: Top Shelf
Compare prices for AX: Alternative Manga Vol. 1
Most of the manga that arrives on American shores looks like what most folks expect out of "Japanese comics." Then along comes AX: Alternative Manga to chop those expectations to bits.
AX is a 400-page collection of wildly diverse short stories by 33 of the most idiosyncratic and provocative comics creators as seen in one of Japan's most boldly original manga magazines. The editors of this collection provided a mix of stories and art styles that are raw, refined, raunchy and/or cerebral. The quality of the stories in AX isn't consistent except for an overall sense of 'anything goes' creativity that makes it an invigorating read.
Author and Artist: Various
Publisher: Fanfare - Ponent Mon
Compare prices for Korea by 12 Creators
A group of French comics creators went to Korea and drew stories about what they saw there. Meanwhile, a group of Korean manhwa artists were charged to create stories that represented their view of their homeland. The result is a beautifully-curated cross-cultural comics collection that looks at Korea from the outside-in and the inside-out.
Much like its predecessor Japan by 17 Creators, Korea by 12 Creators features stories that captures both modern and historical settings, realistic and fanciful tales. It's an interesting glimpse into a rich comics culture that we've only seen bits and pieces of here... so far.