Mon, Feb. 2nd, 2009, 07:24 pm || 2008 sequential art write up

add to memories

This is embarrassingly late, and my other year-end posts will be even more so. It's so late that it's even late by the Lunar New Year!

OMG people! I actually read less manga this year! I suspect this was less because I was reading actual books and more because I moved to a place where the public library either does not have as much manga, or I have had a harder time finding it via the catalog, since they are never on the shelves.

Some people may also have noticed that I've switched from doing a post for manga to doing a post for sequential art overall. It's getting too annoying to distinguish between which OEL manga is manga and which is comics—some just read more like comics to me, and I cannot say why, except that they do. I'm also changing formats a bit, since having the same series on my best-of list for three years in a row or so feels odd. At least, that would be my reason if I wanted to look good. In actuality, it is merely because I am tired of trying to come up with blurbs that will sound different from last year's.

As with previous years, this is my list of favorites that I read this year, and it has nothing to do with the date published. Unlike previous years, I have each individual volume linked, thanks to my awesome new database! If there's no link, I haven't written it up, but feel free to ask about it in comments. The licensing information is only for the US, many apologies!

Favorite new-to-me series


  • Ashihara Hinako, Sand Chronicles: A coming-of-age story about four friends who grow up together in a rural Japanese town, and then grow closer and grow apart. The story's centered around Uekusa Ann and told via a series of flashbacks; Ann's first introduced when she's twenty-something and ready to move in with her boyfriend, but then she reminisces about her move to Shimane at 12 and the friends she found there. The story itself is ordinary; what's extraordinary is the empathy Ashihara feels for her characters, the way she so perfectly captures them at every age, and how honest their interactions are. This is one of the few series that I would compare to Nana, and I'm sure this will be one of my favorites for years.
    Licensed by Viz, vols. 1-4 of ? 10 currently available.


  • Hino Matsuri, Vampire Knight: This is one of those series you either know you will love or you will completely not get. I love it. It has vampires and vampire hunters, neck-licking, biting as a completely un-sublimated metaphor for sex, biting that may be sexier than actual sex, oodles of brooding vampire bishounen, and a few plot twists that had me shouting with glee. My inner thirteen-year-old loves this to pieces and is not at all rational about it, and my outer adult can only marvel at the sheer amount of gorgeous art, crack, and id Hino Matsuri crams into each volume.
    Licensed by Viz, vols. 1-5 of ? currently available.


  • Nan Kongyuu, Lonesome Eden and White Garden: You know when you've hit that time when you've just discovered a certain genre or type of book, you have no idea who or what to read, and you just randomly pull things off the shelf? And most of it is dreck, but then you stumble across one author who is brilliant and made of all things awesome? That is how I feel about Nan Kongyuu. These are the two best works by her I've read so far. They both feature beautiful, Gothic art and elements such as dolls, gods who long for mortality, and pets in human form, but instead of being pure crack, they're delicate portraits of loss and the desire for companionship. These are lovely, and I so wish they were more widely read.
    Unlicensed in English.


  • Sugiura Shiho, Silver Diamond: This is a charming fantasy series that somehow combines epic worldbuilding, environmental crises, and cheerful domesticity; I hope it will keep its intimate, funny tone even as the plot develops. All of the characters feel a little broken, and yet, the focus isn't on the angst, but rather on their general incomprehension of basic human norms, like group hugs. Plus, talking snake!
    Licensed by TokyoPop, vols. 1-3 of ? currently available.


  • Yoshinaga Fumi, Ooku: I want everyone in the world to read this, even if they don't usually read manga. This is Yoshinaga's Y: The Last Man, in which a strange pox has killed of 75% of the men in Japan around the 1600s. Although the series so far focuses on the men, particularly the men brought in to serve in the shogun's harem, the emphasis is more on how women took over the shogunate and on how the pox influences all areas of Japanese society. I do wish Yoshinaga would take her analysis even deeper, but I'm only three volumes in. This is the feminist manga I've always wanted, and I'm desperately waiting for more volumes to explore the power differentials and court intrigue in the shogun's court.
    Licensed by Viz, vol. 1 of ? to come out in August 2009.


  • Yuki Kaori, Boys Next Door and Kaine: (Spoilers for Kaine in the link) Thanks to the joys of alphabetization, Yoshinaga's feminist series is next to Yuki Kaori's one offs about serial killers, rent boys, and insane rock stars. While the stories aren't as overtly misogynistic as some of Yuki's other series, they're definitely far from feminist. Still, I love them in all their bad-wrong-no-ness. Both the one offs have extremely doomed loves, one has cannibalism as a form of affection, and another involves twins. There are also evil circus folk. As with most of the Gothic shoujo I read, you probably know where you stand with this.
    Unlicensed in English



Also recommended

  • Aida Yu, Gunslinger Girl: An amazingly non-exploitative series about assassin girls and the men who control them. I like this for the silences and for the way each girl tries to be normal, even though she's a cyborg killing machine, and I particularly like Aida's exploration of the girls' relationships with each other and with their handlers.

  • Azuma Kiyohiko, Azumanga Daioh: The 4-koma format turned me off at first, but the characters won me over. They feel like close friends, and this will be comfort read for a long time. Plus, random puns!

  • Kim Yeon-Joo, Nabi: The Prototype: Gorgeously illustrated short stories set in the same fantasy world. We only get hints of the world-building, but there's a wistfulness to the collection that stays in my head.

  • Kouno Fumiyo, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms: A deceptively simple-feeling volume about everyday life after the atomic bomb. Ephemeral and filled with regret.

  • Shinkai Makoto and Sahara Mizu, The Voices of a Distant Star: I love Sahara Mizu's art, and this volume is no exception. The story itself could be cheesy, but instead, it's a touching look at two people separated by wide expanses of space and time.

  • Yoshinaga Fumi, Flower of Life and All My Darling Daughters: These would have been in my favorite list, had I just not read Ooku this year, which blew everything out of the water. Yoshinaga excels at showing characters obsessed with a particular thing, and her portrayal of the manga fans in Flower of Life are pure awesome. All My Darling Daughters is that rare manga, one that I would actually categorize as feminist. Note that the collection of shorts are extremely uneven, and some are decidedly not feminist, but there are one or two in there that I just love. It's older women, younger men, daughters, working women, and friends all trying to figure out love.




Favorite ending series

  • Mizushiro Setona, After School Nightmare: The ending's a bit of a "Huh?" instead of "Oh, lovely!" but since it does not make me want to throw the series at a wall, I am satisfied.

  • Mori Kaoru, Emma: Despite the melodrama, the ending remains as lovely and understated as the rest of the series. I wish Shirley were as good, but there's always Bangaihen.

  • Yuki Kaori, Cain Saga/Godchild: There could be analysis and praise, but really, all I have is: "BWAHAHAHAHA! AWESOMESAUCE! SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER!"



Eternal Sabbath isn't on here because I'm still grumpy about some of notes struck in the final volume.


Favorite continuing series

  • CLAMP, xxxHolic and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle: The licensed versions have just gotten to my favorite parts, and the chapters are finally explaining things! Note to authors: I can haz moar loligoth Sakura?

  • Higuri You, Cantarella: Why the hiatus, why? Especially as I fear for many of the characters, thanks to history.

  • Minekura Kazuya, Wild Adapter: Volume 6 was a bit of a letdown, but, oh, volume 5! Minekura remains queen of the flashback.

  • Urushibara Yuki, Mushishi: Still just as beautiful and haunting and eerie as always, with bonus eye trauma to boot.

  • Yazawa Ai, Nana: Oh Nanas. Oh giant cast of characters. How I love you so, and how it hurts to watch you all stumble through life at times. And yet, the friendships and relationships make it all worthwhile.



Saiyuki isn't on here because the only volume I read was the solid-but-not-amazing volume 8.


Total read: 197 (36 reread)

All sequential art read in 2008
1. Yuki Kaori, Angel Sanctuary, vol. 20, Jan 03 (reread)
2. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 1, Jan 11
3. Mizuki Hakase, Demon Flowers, vol. 2, Jan 12
4. Kara and Lee YunHee, Angel Diary, vol. 3, Jan 19
5. Kara and Lee YunHee, Angel Diary, vol. 4, Jan 20
6. Yuki Kaori, Godchild, vol. 8, Jan 30
7. Higuri You, Cantarella, vol. 9, Jan 31
8. Shaun Tan, The Arrival, Feb 02
9. Hayakawa Tomoko, The Wallflower, vol. 5, Feb 07
10. Uhm JungHyun, Forest of Gray City, vol. 1, Feb 08
11. Ogawa Yayoi, Tramps Like Us, vol. 14, Feb 12
12. CLAMP, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, vol. 16, Feb 12 (reread)
13. Mizushiro Setona, After School Nightmare, vol. 5, Feb 16 (reread)
14. Mizushiro Setona, After School Nightmare, vol. 6, Feb 16
15. Okazaki Mari, Suppli, vol. 1, Feb 18
16. Yun Mi-Kyung, Bride of the Water God, vol. 2, Feb 20
17. Minekura Kazuya, Wild Adapter, vol. 4, Feb 20
18. Konno Keiko, Words of Devotion, vol. 1, Feb 25
19. Urushibara Yuki, Mushishi, vol. 3, Feb 25
20. Kara and Lee YunHee, Angel Diary, vol. 5, Mar 03
21. Shiomi Chika, Yurara, vol. 1, Mar 20
22. Shiomi Chika, Yurara, vol. 2, Mar 21
23. Hayakawa Tomoko, The Wallflower, vol. 6, Mar 22
24. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 2, Mar 23
25. Okazaki Mari, Suppli, vol. 2, Mar 23
26. Konno Keiko, Words of Devotion, vol. 2, Mar 23
27. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 3, Mar 23
28. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 4, Mar 23
29. Takeuchi Mick, Her Majesty's Dog, vol. 8, Mar 23
30. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 5, Mar 24
31. Mori Kaoru, Emma, vol. 6, Mar 24
32. Soryo Fuyumi, Eternal Sabbath, vol. 8, Mar 24
33. CLAMP, xxxHolic, vol. 11, Mar 25 (reread)
34. Mori Kaoru, Emma, vol. 7, Mar 26
35. Yazawa Ai, Nana, vol. 9, Apr 03 (reread)
36. Hino Matsuri, Vampire Knight, vol. 3, Apr 06 (reread)
37. Kotobuki Tarako, Love Pistols, vol. 3, Apr 06
38. Hino Matsuri, Vampire Knight, vol. 4, Apr 06
39. Yoshinaga Fumi, Flower of Life, vol. 1, Apr 13
40. Higuri You, Cantarella, vol. 10, Apr 18
41. Yuki Kaori, Fairy Cube, vol. 1, Apr 26
42. Kotobuki Tarako, Love Pistols, vol. 4, Apr 27
43. Kouno Fumiyo, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms, Apr 27
44. Yoshinaga Fumi, Flower of Life, vol. 2, Apr 28
45. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 6, Apr 28
46. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 7, Apr 28
47. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 8, Apr 28
48. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 9, Apr 29
49. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 10, Apr 30
50. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 11, Apr 30
51. Yoshinaga Fumi, Flower of Life, vol. 3, May 05
52. Hibaki Banri, V. B. Rose, vol. 1, May 06
53. Tamaki Chihiro, Walkin' Butterfly, vol. 1, May 06
54. Tamaki Chihiro, Walkin' Butterfly, vol. 2, May 06
55. Mizushiro Setona, After School Nightmare, vol. 7, May 07
56. Minekura Kazuya, Wild Adapter, vol. 5, May 10
57. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 12, May 10
58. CLAMP, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, vol. 17, May 16 (reread)
59. Urushibara Yuki, Mushishi, vol. 4, May 18
60. Marley, Dokebi Bride, vol. 1, May 19
61. Mizushiro Setona, After School Nightmare, vol. 8, Jun 10
62. Mizushiro Setona, After School Nightmare, vol. 9, Jun 11
63. Takaya Natsuki, Hoshi wa Utau, vol. 1, Jun 16
64. Yoshinaga Fumi, Ooku, vol. 1, Jun 17
65. Ryan, Angel Hair, Jun 17
66. Yuki Kaori, Parfum Extrait 0, Jun 17
67. Yoshinaga Fumi, Ooku, vol. 2, Jun 19
68. Yoshinaga Fumi, Ooku, vol. 3, Jun 20
69. Nan Kongyuu, Lonesome Eden, Jun 21
70. Nan Kongyuu, Qidan Melody, Jun 22
71. Nan Kongyuu, White Garden, Jun 22
72. Nan Kongyuu, Blue Sky Prayer, vol. 1, Jun 24
73. Xiao Jun, Shadow of Visions, vol. 1, Jun 24
74. Xiao Jun, Shadow of Visions, vol. 2, Jun 24
75. Yuki Kaori, Blood Hound, Jun 30
76. Yuki Kaori, Boys Next Door, Jun 30
77. Urasawa Naoki and Tezuka Osamu, Pluto, vol. 1, Jul 01
78. Urasawa Naoki and Tezuka Osamu, Pluto, vol. 2, Jul 01
79. Yuki Kaori, Screw, Jul 02
80. Yuki Kaori, Kaine, Jul 03
81. Lin Yu-Chin, Vision of the Other Side, Jul 04
82. Urasawa Naoki and Tezuka Osamu, Pluto, vol. 3, Jul 11
83. Mizushiro Setona, After School Nightmare, vol. 10, Jul 11
84. Nan Kongyuu, Tao Tie Ceremony, vol. 1, Jul 13
85. Nan Kongyuu, Tao Tie Ceremony, vol. 2, Jul 13
86. Urasawa Naoki and Tezuka Osamu, Pluto, vol. 4, Jul 26
87. Cen Xiao Jing, Knight Princess, vol. 1, Jul 28
88. Cen Xiao Jing, Knight Princess, vol. 2, Jul 29
89. Urasawa Naoki and Tezuka Osamu, Pluto, vol. 5, Jul 29
90. Aida Yu, Gunslinger Girl, vol. 3, Aug 04
91. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki Reload, vol. 8, Aug 04
92. Hibaki Banri, V. B. Rose, vol. 2, Aug 05
93. CLAMP, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, vol. 18, Aug 05 (reread)
94. CLAMP, xxxHolic, vol. 12, Aug 07 (reread)
95. Yuki Kaori, Fairy Cube, vol. 1, Aug 08 (reread)
96. Sugiura Shiho, Silver Diamond, vol. 1, Aug 08
97. Yuki Kaori, Fairy Cube, vol. 2, Aug 08
98. Aida Yu, Gunslinger Girl, vol. 4, Aug 08
99. Takeuchi Mick, Her Majesty's Dog, vol. 9, Aug 08
100. Okazaki Mari, Suppli, vol. 3, Aug 10
101. Marley, Dokebi Bride, vol. 2, Aug 12
102. Marley, Dokebi Bride, vol. 3, Aug 14
103. Uhm JungHyun, Forest of Gray City, vol. 2, Aug 15
104. Marley, Dokebi Bride, vol. 4, Aug 16
105. Hino Matsuri, Vampire Knight, vol. 5, Aug 16
106. Aida Yu, Gunslinger Girl, vol. 5, Aug 17
107. Aida Yu, Gunslinger Girl, vol. 6, Aug 17
108. Kara and Lee YunHee, Angel Diary, vol. 6, Aug 17
109. Kim Yeon-Joo, Nabi: The Prototype, Aug 17
110. Yazawa Ai, Nana, vol. 10, Aug 22 (reread)
111. Yazawa Ai, Nana, vol. 11, Aug 22 (reread)
112. Yazawa Ai, Nana, vol. 12, Aug 26 (reread)
113. Komura Ayumi, Mixed Vegetables, vol. 1, Aug 29
114. Nakajo Hisaya, Sugar Princess, vol. 1, Sep 04
115. Morinaga Ai, Your & My Secret, vol. 1, Sep 06
116. Ashihara Hinako, Sand Chronicles, vol. 1, Sep 06 (reread)
117. Ashihara Hinako, Sand Chronicles, vol. 2, Sep 06
118. Ashihara Hinako, Sand Chronicles, vol. 3, Sep 06
119. Han SeungHee and Jeon JinSeok, One Thousand and One Nights, vol. 4, Sep 06
120. Urushibara Yuki, Mushishi, vol. 5, Sep 06
121. Shimizu Reiko, Moon Child, vol. 1, Sep 11
122. Iwanaga Ryotaro, Pumpkin Scissors, vol. 1, Sep 11
123. Shimizu Reiko, Moon Child, vol. 2, Sep 12
124. Shimizu Reiko, Moon Child, vol. 3, Sep 13
125. Shimizu Reiko, Moon Child, vol. 4, Sep 13
126. Shimizu Reiko, Moon Child, vol. 5, Sep 14
127. Shimizu Reiko, Moon Child, vol. 6, Sep 15
128. Shimizu Reiko, Moon Child, vol. 7, Sep 15
129. Azuma Kiyohiko, Azumanga Daioh, vol. 1, Sep 17
130. Lee Joung-A, Chronicles of the Grim Peddler, vol. 1, Sep 19
131. Kim Young-Hee, Evyione: Ocean Fantasy, vol. 1, Sep 19
132. Azuma Kiyohiko, Azumanga Daioh, vol. 2, Sep 19
133. Morinaga Ai, Your & My Secret, vol. 2, Sep 20
134. Nakamura Yoshiki, Skip Beat, vol. 13, Sep 21
135. Azuma Kiyohiko, Azumanga Daioh, vol. 3, Sep 22
136. Azuma Kiyohiko, Azumanga Daioh, vol. 4, Sep 24
137. Hatori Bisco, Ouran High School Host Club, vol. 2, Sep 27 (reread)
138. Hatori Bisco, Ouran High School Host Club, vol. 3, Sep 27 (reread)
139. Hatori Bisco, Ouran High School Host Club, vol. 4, Sep 27
140. Hatori Bisco, Ouran High School Host Club, vol. 5, Sep 27
141. Hatori Bisco, Ouran High School Host Club, vol. 6, Sep 27
142. Hatori Bisco, Ouran High School Host Club, vol. 7, Sep 28
143. Hatori Bisco, Ouran High School Host Club, vol. 8, Sep 28
144. Hatori Bisco, Ouran High School Host Club, vol. 9, Sep 28
145. Hatori Bisco, Ouran High School Host Club, vol. 10, Sep 28
146. Takemiya Keiko, To Terra, vol. 1, Oct 02
147. Takeuchi Mick, Her Majesty's Dog, vol. 10, Oct 02
148. Kawahara Kazune, High School Debut, vol. 1, Oct 04 (reread)
149. Takemiya Keiko, To Terra, vol. 2, Oct 08
150. Takemiya Keiko, To Terra, vol. 3, Oct 10
151. Ann Marie Fleming, The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam: An Illustrated Memoir, Oct 13
152. Nakahara Aya, Love Com, vol. 1, Oct 22
153. Shekhar Kapur, Samit Basu, Siddharth Kotian, and Mukesh Singh, Namaha, vol. 1, Oct 24
154. Sugiura Shiho, Silver Diamond, vol. 2, Oct 24
155. Shinkai Makoto and Sahara Mizu, The Voices of a Distant Star, Oct 26
156. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 1, Oct 31
157. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 2, Oct 31
158. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 3, Oct 31
159. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 4, Nov 01
160. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 5, Nov 01
161. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 6, Nov 01
162. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 7, Nov 01
163. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 8, Nov 01
164. Derek Kirk Kim, Good as Lily, Nov 04
165. Yuki Kaori, Fairy Cube, vol. 3, Nov 06
166. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 9, Nov 13
167. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 10, Nov 13
168. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 11, Nov 13
169. Joann Sfar, The Rabbi's Cat 2, vol. 2, Nov 20
170. Kobayashi Miyuki and Ando Natsumi, Kitchen Princess, vol. 1, Nov 22
171. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 12, Nov 24
172. Yagi Norihiro, Claymore, vol. 13, Nov 24
173. Derek Kirk Kim, Same Difference and Other Stories, Dec 01
174. Sakurazawa Erica, Angel Nest, Dec 05
175. Minekura Kazuya, Wild Adapter, vol. 6, Dec 06
176. Mizushiro Setona, After School Nightmare, vol. 8, Dec 06 (reread)
177. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 1, Dec 12 (reread)
178. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 2, Dec 12 (reread)
179. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 3, Dec 13 (reread)
180. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 4, Dec 13 (reread)
181. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 5, Dec 15 (reread)
182. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 6, Dec 15 (reread)
183. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 7, Dec 15 (reread)
184. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 8, Dec 15 (reread)
185. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 9, Dec 16 (reread)
186. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 10, Dec 16 (reread)
187. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 11, Dec 16 (reread)
188. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 12, Dec 18 (reread)
189. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 13, Dec 18 (reread)
190. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 14, Dec 18 (reread)
191. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 15, Dec 18 (reread)
192. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 16, Dec 19 (reread)
193. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 17, Dec 19 (reread)
194. Urasawa Naoki, Monster, vol. 18, Dec 19 (reread)
195. Cen Xiao Jing, Knight Princess, vol. 3, Dec 27
196. Cen Xiao Jing, Knight Princess, vol. 4, Dec 29
197. Yoshinaga Fumi, All My Darling Daughters, Dec 29