Mr. Empty: Day 4: Manga character that you're most like

"Time is relative." - yo momma

Chad Yasutora.
I often look surprised. I occasionally look Filipino.
(not true)

I stopped reading Bleach around the time Shonen Jump stopped sending me physical magazines. But the Chad that I feel weirdly represented by is the one from the first few volumes. The first real backstory we get is Chad and Ichigo, fighting a group of thugs because Chad doesn't want to fight. He learned from an early age that he was a big guy, and he had to be careful because he could hurt people. This resonates deeply...I've been close to six feet tall since I was like fourteen, and in high school I hit another growth spurt and got even taller. I got used to being taller than anyone else, and I still get weirded out when someone is taller than I am. I should have chosen Abraham Lincoln, who actually used to make people stand back to back with him if he thought they were as tall as he was. And everyone was like what a weirdo but he was president so he could make them do anything. But Chad is a lot like Abraham Lincoln. He has a soft spot for cute things, and a big heart. There's a whole arc where he gets assaulted by a Hollow trying to protect a parakeet that houses the soul of a little boy. He gets a steel girder dropped on him and just shrugs it off. Am I saying I could do that? Possibly. No one drop steel girders on me and we'll assume it would go well. 

Headphones are really hard. :(

 Chad also ends up being wildly outclassed by EVERYONE around him when they start getting spiritual powers. Despite that, he just keeps on trucking, and taking his time, and developing his powers. He has a great work ethic. I wish I had that! I am SO lazy. I am horribly, horribly lazy. Sorry, Chad, you got me beat there.

Oh, but the other part of today, is that we get to pick what manga character we WISH we were like. Oh boy. SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM.

I definitely need someone tragique! Someone with a sad backstory, but who is also a martyr for the duration of the story as well. This is a classic shonen character. Pick any CLAMP series, I can pretty much guarantee there's a sad motherfucker missing an eye or a limb in the party.

But I also need someone who has some serious power! Now, my go-to is, has, and always will be fire. Pyromania runs in the maternal family line. I always chose Charmander, and I always used the fire ability in Bioshock. Secondary go-to? Sniping. I'm a born sniper, ask any of my friends who used to play multiplayer games with me but made me a pariah because I'm "cheap". It is from my secondary power choice that my character was chosen.

This is an alternative cover for volume 2.
The American versions don't have him on the cover, sadly.

C.T. Smith. That's right, I'm choosing a b-side character from a cancelled manga series that no one even knows the author wrote. Zombiepowder, the four-volume, unfinished series from Bleach creator Tite Kubo, is a bit of raw spot for me. The series is, simply put, amazing. I've read those four volumes more than almost any other manga. C.T. Smith is one of the side characters in the main party, who has the most infuriatingly unfulfilled backstory EVER in the history of freaking EVER. He has an amazing fight with a bad guy who has a bunch of little cohorts, and as soon as the bad guy realizes who he's fighting and prepares to say it aloud, C.T. executes him. SFSDGASGFAFG AND THEN THE SERIES JUST ENDS!!!

He's also hilarious. He wears a suit that makes him look vaguely like some sort of detective. He's also an amateur bomb-maker, but he doesn't quite have the timing down. But his real powers are his speed and accuracy. He uses a pair of handguns, with which he is crazy-precise, as in, he shoots all the bolts off a running train's wheels from several hundred yards away! and he is also fast. How fast he actually is never really gets tested in the series, but he can move fast enough to make it seem like he's teleporting. One of the main reasons I like him, despite these glowing descriptions, is that he actually isn't supernaturally powered. He doesn't shoot lasers from his tits, he doesn't poop fireballs, nothing crazy. He's just accurate and fast.

(I also just realized I've chosen two Tite Kubo characters. ^^; oh well)

Dr. M: Day 20--A manga you started out enjoying but ended up not liking as much

I love the high-school silliness of Ouran High School Host Club. It's not something I would have expected to like at first because it is very girly and usually very girly things aren't very interesting to me. I love it despite the pink floaty hearts and super-cuteyness. So, when Bisco Hatori released  Millennium Snow as a new series I was all...let's do that thing!

The cover is pretty.
And it's about vampires.
So I picked up a copy and had high hopes. The story centers on a high-school girl Chiyuki (her name translates to "1,000 snows") who has a serious heart problem, one that will cut her life significantly short. In fact, everyone is suprised that she has lived this long. On one of her good days Chiyuki accidentally meets Toya, a vampire who is anemic due to what he claims is a dislike of human blood (in reality he's just a really nice vampire). He witnesses one of Chiyuki's episodes and takes her to the hospital where he gives her some of his blood to help strengthen her. They start a tentative friendship with a whole "will-they?/won't they?" vibe.

Of course there's some drama, why wouldn't there be?

DRAMA! Werewolf/vampire drama, to be exact. 
 So, okay, it gets a little Twilight in terms of love triangles between human/werewolf/vampire, but unlike Twilight I don't feel like it's a primer for spousal abuse. (Ask me about my views of Twilight!...actually don't. Yeah. No.) The truth is, I liked the first volume quite a bit. The illustrations were nice, the characters were complex, the premise was a little contrived, but unique enough to keep me involved. And then...meh.

I don't know what went wrong. The story line might have just bored me, or the characters bored me? I don't know. I just sort of lost interest. So much so, in fact, that I donated my copies of the series to a book sale. It's not a bad series at all, it just wasn't for me. Maybe I am a little too old for teen-angst? It's a decent series, and I'm a fan of Hatori's work, but it just didn't leave me wanting more, or caring that I didn't finish it.

Title page for Part 9...the art is nice. 

Dr. M: Day 19--A manga that you disliked at first but came to enjoy later on

As Day 19 of the mangathon approaches, our intrepid hero forces herself to carry out the seemingly impossible task set before complete not just this, but another 11 responses to weird prompts about manga. Her attempts at humor, lame on the best of days, falls flat as the prompt for day 19 rears it's head. What, Dear Readers, shall become of our hero?

Well, mostly I'll just try to be funny for a paragraph and then answer the question with a scan from the first volume of Makoto Tateno's Yellow which was so poorly translated that Shakespeare could not resist correcting my copy with handwritten bits of dialog taped over the incomprehensible blather that is actually printed there.

See, there's that scan I was talking about.
Thankfully, a new translation and editing crew seems to have been hired for the later volumes. Otherwise, I could not have read that. It was bad. Like bad, bad. So, I hated it, but it got better, and then I liked it. Our intrepid hero can learn to forgive...occasionally. The end.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's riveting installment, "Day 20: A manga you started out enjoying but ended up not liking as much." You may be surprised, Dear Readers, to discover it is not a yaoi manga. Hooray. I do read other things, you know?

Dr. M: Day 18--Favorite BL/yuri couple

Well, we all know I have a love of the yaoi. I guess that's out in the open, right, Dear Readers?

And, since I've already been posting things about my love of certain characters who are in m/m relationships...certain awesome characters who are cops and doofuses...I have to say that Dee and Ryo from Fake are my favorite couple in all of yaoi. Of course, part of this "favoriting" is that Dee is my favorite character in all of mangadom, but there are other reasons I love this couple.

They are older (so I don't get skeeved out by teen-aged amorous interests...bleh), they are both tough (a good yaoi character is not a girly-girl in a guy's body, manga writers out there, they are dudes), and their sexual tension goes on for seven volumes (three years in the storyline, if my math is right).

Ryo in atypical mode showing affection for Dee.
Dee and Ryo, you are my favorites. Now go make out (so I can make a squee noise and run around the room joyously).

Dr. M: Day 17--A manga that you feel embarrassed about liking

Our Kingdom by Naduki Koujima is embarrassingly bad, and yet...I own the whole series and like it enough that I haven't gotten rid of it.

Check out our Parental Advisory Sticker...
Also, check out our capes! 
Here is a list of why it is bad:
1. The illustrations all look the in there are two face styles, and beyond that it's just differences in hair color (and sometimes those aren't very significant.).
2. How many times can one person be kidnapped? Seriously! Someone needs to put a GPS or pet-chip in the main character because seriously. (Eventually they do sort-of do this. Good idea.)
3. Same-sex cousin incest, not that there's anything wrong with that in is fantasy, I suppose, but still.
4. Sometimes the aggressive sexual behavior gets a little too aggressive. No, does actually mean no.
5. EVERYONE is madly in love with the main character. He's like catnip or catnip! And yet, I see absolutely nothing attractive or compelling in him. He's cute, I guess. But he's kind of dumb.
7. This is supposed to be a _Prince and the Pauper_ inspired story, but I don't see it.
8. The other major character is a snotty, elitist jerk.
10. Frequent sexual harassment of a confused body-guard in every other scene. Not cool.
11. Apparently they live in a world devoid of women. As in, there are three women in this book and none of them are characters with more than two scenes. Yes, I get that this is yaoi, but women exist. That's just a fact.
12. Allow me to use #12 to reiterate how stupid the main character is. He may be the most gullible character I have ever seen. And that is saying a lot, because there are a ton of gullible characters in manga.

Why I still like it, despite the embarrassment of liking a series this bad:
1. It has its cute moments.
2. I like that poor harassed body-guard. He's the most sympathetic character of the bunch.
3. I have no idea. That's it. I have no idea. It's really dumb.

I think I'll go re-read it.

If you go to read it...the early volumes are pretty tame, but the later ones get a little, um...surprise bumfinger? Yeah.

Dr. M: Day 16--A manga you feel you should read but can’t

I don't know why, but I can never really get into the manga of Fullmetal Alchemist, or Inuyasha.
I have read a few. I like FMA, but I sort of get stalled out on it. And I love Inuyasha. Yes, yes, it's popular and mainstream and blah, blah, blah, but it's also good...well, the anime is (except for the series end, that goes without saying). The manga just...eeeeeeeeeehhhhh.

Maybe it's that there are 56 volumes. I cannot afford that. I could get them from the library, but even then...56 volumes?

1-14...incidentally this stack o' manga is for sale for $70 on a site called
Canadian Listed .com is missing issue #10.
For $70 used, I want issue #10, hoser.
It's a daunting stack o' manga to take on. So, I keep meaning to get into both of these series, but I can't. Someday maybe?

Dr. M: Day 15--The Saddest Scene

First, I would like to point out the fact that my fellow Squeers (that's right, I'm going with Squeers) apparently operate on a wibbly-wobbly version of "days." Are they secretly Gallifreyan? Who knows.

Secondly, this question is not significantly different than the last one? What's with the sads? Did Debbie Downer write this prompt list? Am I just supposed to be heaping sorrows upon you, Dear Readers? Again, who knows.

So, okay, "The Saddest Scene" in all of mangadom is...

(No really, it is very sad.)
This scene from Loveless (chapter 26) kills me. Every single time. 

Mr. Empty: Day 3: My Favorite Mangaka

(Is it actually day 3? No. Mr. Empty don't believe in days.)

Here we go.

My favorite mangaka is Inio Asano, creator of What a Wonderful World and Solanin. Normally I'll be conflicted about things in this mangathon, making tough choices. This one is not tough at all.

Inio Asano is a master of magic realism. Where people point to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I would look at Asano in exactly the same way. The mixing of a dry, hopeless background of the life of twenty-somethings with the viral, harsh interjections of something fantastic, something surreal...these are the hallmarks of Asano.

What a Wonderful World is a series of interconnected vignettes, almost a story cycle if you will. It's enough to overclock any literature nerd's circuits. It isn't always friendly, more often than not it's a mirror of a very harsh reality...but his treatment is always with such care. You can sense he is always pouring bits of his soul into the work.

I will say this, my favorite mangaka for art style, on the other hand, is probably Kouta Hirano or Eiji Otsuka. Kouta Hirano's characters are sometimes handled with a bit of ham-fistery and not much anatomical correctness; i.e. bizarrely long arms, weird torsos, breasts that vary wildly in size over the course of the series (compare the police-girl's boobs in volume 1 to six or seven volumes later). However, Hirano is a minor deity when it comes to bloody, splashy goodness.

Uh-oh...that's a lot of swords. 

"This gun makes a pretty big hole." <- Alucard's ever-present sense of humor.

If you read Hellsing, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Some of the spreads are so iconic, so memorable. The volume with the hotel fight is transcendental. Alucard rips people to shreds, in literal showers of blood. He throws a dozen bodies out of a window to be impaled on flag poles. The manga goes absolutely bat-shit crazy later on, and you can bet the violence follows right alongside. This is one of the few manga series that actually talks about war, and then comes at you with a full-blown war! It's on a huge scale, thousands of soldiers, bodies everywhere. If you didn't follow it when it was being released, you really missed out. We waited a year, a YEAR, between volumes. There was a sense of fellowship in that suffering. It made us appreciate every panel of the manga when it got there, and the slavish detail of every drop of Nazi blood that was spilled.

Eiji Otsuka, on the other hand, is one of the most anatomically-aware manga artists I can think of. He's the sick mind behind MPD-Psycho and Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. There is a sense of glee in his violence, and I would defy anyone to find more creative gore than MPD-Psycho's in the manga realm. He is definitely at the top of the game, and I really love the depth of his madness. How can he make a spread of some sad suicide case look so damn pretty? It's pastoral, damn it.

I did say anatomy. Didn't say he grasped the amount of pressure that blood is under in humans. Garden hose!

Look at those guts, and ribs, and bits. Those are probably generally really accurate! They look gross and therefore accurate!

A Manga You Would Recommend to Anyone? 12 Days

12 Days by June Kim
What manga would you recommend to anyone? That is a really tough question. It's different from, what is your favorite manga or which manga would you most like people to read?

Basically, for something like this, you have to pick something that does not fit in a genre, because you have folks who are never going to read that stuff with characters with the "big eyes" or "pretty boys" or that "anime crap with the robots" or whatever. You can't recommend something too dark or arty because then the people who like the other stuff get all angsty. Okay, it can be a little dark and arty, so people feel smart.

A manga for everyone, is kind of a manga in the middle, I guess.

For this, I picked June Kim's global manga, 12 Days, the story of a woman, Jackie Yuen, who drinks her dead lover's ashes over the period of 12 days to deal with the grief she feels over her death.

This isn't my favorite manga. I'm not even sure it is a favorite. But it has stuck with me over time. It's not a typical manga, sticking mostly to realism in style and form. It's creator is not Japanese. I don't even think it reads in the opposite direction ( I can't find my copy at the moment). It is arty, and sad, and thoughtful, closer to a graphic novel in conception, but published by the now defunct TokyoPop, it definitely is a manga. It deals with a queer romance in a sensitive and thoughtful way, and its structure is also interesting, ending in Chapter 0, at the beginning of the story.

It's worth the read, if you can find a copy. I'd be interested to hear if others have read this, and if they have an opinion.

Dr. M: Day 14?-- A manga that makes you cry.

Now, contrary to the popular belief of a few of my closest friends (like Shakespeare) and my immediate family members who have seen me break down on occasion, I am not a cryer. It's not that I don't have "feels" but that I don't feel comfortable expressing those "feels" in front of many people.

That said, the thing that's most likely to make me cry is something that isn't happening to me. I am an empathizer, I am like soaking in empathy all the messes me up. It might be why I'm a little closed-off in expressing my feels. The things most likely to make me cry are stories. I cry at movies on occasion. I cry at feel-good articles or tragedies. I cry at books more often than anything. I cry when the characters I love are hurt, or sad, or even elated (so happy they, and I, begin to cry). So, I certainly cry at manga. There are a few manga that make me cry, and usually it isn't so much in frustration or empathized sorrow as it is at a deep sort of loneliness or despair a character feels. Or elation.

So, in no particular order, here are some manga that have made me cry:

1. Loveless...multiple times. There's something so desperate about the characters' need for love and acceptance. Damn.
2. Gurran Lagaan...I love Simone.
3. Constellations in my Palm...such sweet heartbreak.
4. Love Song for the Miserable...just the first read, but still. It is pretty miserable.
5. La Esperanca...every freaking time. I'm a sobbing wreck.

Robert, Georges, stop making me cry please? 

So, Dear Readers, what manga has brought you to tears?

Dr. M: Day 13--The most epic scene ever

What makes a scene EPIC!!!!!!!?

Is it laser fights? Explosions? Emotional intensity? A whole bunch of random wind? An apocalypse? Or two? Is it a sudden realization? 

Technically "Epic" refers to something beyond the normal scope and size. It refers back to Epic story is one that follows, usually, the traditional monomyth story arc (aka "the hero's journey") so we need something TRULY epic here...there are a lot of Epics in manga. 
Certainly FullMetal Alchemist is epic, as is Gurran Lagaan and countless other hero and redemption stories. I'm pretty sure this prompt is looking for "epic" in a more common-use sense, like "Those Doritos are Epic." No, they're the way..."epic" is a highly overused word. Ridiculously overused. And because I'm grumpy, lit-brained me, I'm not going to pick a random scene with high intensity and call it "epic." I'm looking for something a little more, well, EPIC! 

So, I'm going with a manga that's based on Alexandre Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo (yes, like the sandwich). 

Gankutsuou written and illustrated by Mahiro Maeda is based loosely on Count of Monte Cristo, with the basic story-line and character names, with some otherworldlyness thrown in for complication (as if the original story isn't complicated enough). At its heart both stories are vengeance tales, that best illustrate the idea that "revenge is a dish best served cold." No one survives unscathed in this story. The lead character of Edmond Dantes, once a sort of golden-boy hero, is twisted and embittered in ways that turn him into a sort of monster (albeit with a justifiable desire for vengeance). Eventually, Dantes exacts his vengeance in cruel and calculating ways. It really is a story worth reading. The most epic scene, without giving too much away, comes when Dantes confronts the man (his former best friend) who betrayed him, ruined his life and stole his fiance. 
The proverbial shit is about to hit the fan here as Dantes
"interrogates" Franz, his former friend and saboteur. 
This epic scene is the culmination of years of toil, anger, and methodical planning. It is at this point that Dantes' vengeance is truly unleashed, and the careful trap he laid is revealed. 

Then it gets pretty brutal: 
No rest for the wicked, Franz.
You made your bed, now lie in it...yeesh!
A truly "Epic" scene! Go read the original story by's a cornerstone of western literature, and it's motifs have spread worldwide. It's a good story to know, even if it does illuminate the darker parts of human nature. 

Dr. M: Day 12--A manga you used to love but don’t anymore

You know, I don't know that I have one of those.

I feel like I should, but I don't. There are manga that go off in directions that I haven't anticipated, but nothing that's really fallen apart completely.

Now, anime...that's different. I'm looking at you Bleach...why are you a hot mess of nonsense sometimes? And yet I keep watching.

My name is Ichigo. I am a substitute Soul-reaper, and I seem to have misplaced my story-line.
Also, sometimes I completely contradict myself.
Why is there no continuity in my life? 

(Image by Kyle Robinson, 2009, found on

Dr. M: Day 11--Your First Manga Crush

Okay, first, there is something you should know. I am not a romantic. In fact, I am pretty much the opposite of a romantic. Wine and bubblebaths and grand sweeping gestures seem silly and insincere to me. I'm less likely to swoon than to laugh at those kinds of romantic things. I hate the phrase "make love" because it gives me the gross-outs. I think people should be honest, and have a hard, crunchy shell...I am not an easy person to love. And I'm okay with that. I do love people, wholly and fully and with all of my twisted little soul, but I don't do romance, and I'm more likely to tell someone to "suck it up and act like they own a pair" than sugar-coat things. That's not great, because sometimes we need a little sugar, sugar boogers (that's a term of's about as cutey-fu-fu as I get).

So, it will come as no surprise that I not only don't mind mean, curmudgeonly characters...I kind of love them.

My first manga crush was Eiri Yuki from Gravitation, the most unlikely and unromantic romance novelist ever.

He's cruel, and honest, and altogether my type of person.

He's so deliciously MEAN! 
Here's Eiri Yuki in typical jerk-mode, explaining why he's annoyed with his lover Shuichi:

"You're boring when you're not acting stupid...but you're even worse when you're trying too hard. If you want to get all emotional, then go someplace else. Take some Ritalin. I don't want to hear you bitch and moan." ("Track 7").

Yes, it's harsh, but isn't heartless. In his defense Shuichi is annoying as all get out and should take some Ritalin.

And as he says later, "Get over it, this is just the way I profess my love" ("Track 54"). Some of us don't express our love in standard ways, but it doesn't mean I don't care. It means I can be myself with the people I love. I can call them crap-weasels if I want because I love them.

And it isn't like Eiri Yuki can't be kind, I mean he did threaten to kick anyone's ass who kidnapped his boyfriend without permission. Of course, that's after he told his boyfriend he was a no-talent hack and a moron chimp.

You take the good and the bad, I guess? Love hurts. It hurts even worse when you're with an unromantic cad, but we don't really mean to be unromantic...we just think it's gross. So, like Eiri Yuki, when I call someone a moron chimp, I do it out of love. It might be narcissistic to fall for a character too much like me, but that's another issue I have to deal with. I leave you with these parting words of love from Yuki (romance novelist...remember?):

"When you're that happy, I just want to smack you." ("Track 32")...yup. That's about right.

The heart wants what it wants!
What does it want?
Blood mostly!

Manga Character You are Most Like: Kantarou Ichinomiya

Haruka and Kanterou

I'm cheating just a little here, since I am more familiar with Tactics the anime rather than Tactics the manga, but the truth remains the same. I'm probably most like Kantarou Ichinomiya the main protagonist of both. Kantarou is cute but clever. He is a person who at surface doesn't seem to have too much depth, but just below there is a ton going on.

In the story, Kantarou is both a folklorist and a "part-time" exorcist. He can see and talk to youkai, little ghosties and demons. Youkai are considered kind of pesky, but Kantarou has a way with them. As a kid, when he was ostracized by humans. The youkai were there, and when he grew up, he even lived with one, a fox demon, Yoko. She is adorable.

Yoko: Tactics
Kantarou is very smart and manipulative, but kind hearted. He frees a demon eating tengu, Haruka, and becomes his master. Adventures ensue, and later angst, which is the way of manga. The name of the manga comes from Haruka, who describes Kantaurou as a tactician for his distinct ability to get the best of the situation and plan ahead. I think this could also be said of me.

Anyway, for those who aren't familiar, it's a fun story, and perhaps a bit monster of the weekish, but that is just fine by me.

Dr. M: Day 10--A manga that makes you fluffy and happy when you read it

What kind of category is that? Fluffy? A manga that makes me feel "fluffy?" I am rolling my eyes at the prompt, Dear Readers, because..."Fluffy?"  Yes, yes, I understand what the question means...warm and fuzzy, or some such "feely" crap. That's not really me.

But, if what we're talking about here is "Awwww! Cute! Super-Cute!" moments (which is my interpretation of "fluffy") then I will have to go with another CLAMP title, one that (incidentally) overlaps with Legal Drug, Suki!

Suki: A Like Story is a three-volume series that centers on high-school girl Hinata "Hina" Asahi, an ultra-naive, bubble head, living on her own. This is one of the sweetest, most innocent, and clueless characters in the whole mangaverse. She could be sickeningly sweet, except she's also really, really funny in an ever-positive, always-sunny-all-the-time way. She "falls for" in her cluelessly innocent way, for her new teacher (a gruff and grumpy type, who sees her as a kid, thankfully) and hijinx ensue. We learn a little more about Hina's life and personality as the story progresses and she grows up just a bit.

And if that weren't cute enough there is a side-plot involving the author of a children's book, whose story about a grumpy bear and enthusiastic cub mirrors that of Hina and her teacher's relationship.


Suki  is not the normal fare for me. It is really, really cute. But it is also very insightful and it always gives me a "fluffy" feeling...if there is such a thing. Fluff! Fluff! Fluff! (Bears are fluffy...)

Dr. M: Day 9--A manga you’d like to see more of


Would you please, for the love of all things manga, finish Legal Drug?

I mean, did you get bored? I've known manga series to go on hiatus, but AIEE! I have been waiting for YEARS!


Dr. M

So, here's some good news...Legal Drug has been picked up again, under the name Drug and Drop. So, I suppose I should take Saiga's advice and just stop whining and drop it.

Will do, sir. Will do!

Ironically (or something), the first words in the new series are "Always waiting for them..."
No crap! Thanks, CLAMP! I forgive you a little bit.

Mr. Empty: My Favorite? The Favorite? They're ALL My Favorite

Favorite is such a subjective word.

I just want to do a quick run-through of some of the series that ran through my head when I thought of "Favorite Manga". Jormungand, Shaman King, Hellsing, What a Wonderful World, Loveless, Cage of Eden, Mushishi, Negima, Laon, MPD-Psycho, Saikano.

But then I remembered. I had a flash of lightning hit and explode me. Then the Great Will of The Macrocosm brought me back to life and I remember that Excel Saga is AWESOME AS HELL.

Now, if you'll remember, I may have mentioned that I love this series. I actually started with the anime which is good....then I picked up the manga which is a work of genius.

The only thing I can even start to compare it to is the television show Arrested Development. The plot is thick. And when I say thick, I don't mean a hearty broth at your granny's. I mean THICK as in the most bootylicious bootyshaker of all bootydom. There's a twist on every page, and they usually have nothing to do with the actual story, just arbitrary strokes of misfortune. Which is what they want you to think. You read a twist in volume two, and it has no ramifications until volume twenty. Continuity on a really impressive, full-on War and Peace scale.

Besides being an impressive work, the series is genuinely hilarious. It's not really the cheap gag manga I think it will occasionally get dismissed as. Granted, there is a copious amount of wordplay. The wordplay is really weird and being weird it gets funny, but I think a lot is lost in translation. The stuff that really gets you is when you get hit with a joke that comes from a half dozen volumes back, and you snap up and go "oh! oh! OH!!" and then you laugh. Those are the great ones. That's my favorite kind of funny.

There is also a sense of severity somewhere underneath all the jokes. There's a massive battle going on between some sort of ancient superpowers, and they run through dozens of various encounters, including actual battle via their minions, corporate sabotage, predatory pricing, biological warfare, robots, mecha, and more explosions than you can shake a stick at. Everything is still light, but you get the sense that not everyone sees the full big picture and then you maybe have that Lovecraftian sense of tiny, insignificant bugs caught up in a massive game they can't even fathom.

And that's why I have to run with Excel Saga as my favorite manga to date. 

Dr. M: Day 8-- The most annoying character

I'm sure Renge's shouting something ridiculous about
"Moe" and eating "three bowls of rice" in this panel.
"Oh, ho-ho-ho-"...shaddup!

Dear Renge Houshakuji,

You are a superannoying fangirl. Every time your character shows up in Ouran Highschool Host Club I get more annoyed. I thought about just coloring in the pages where you appear, effectively excising you from the manga, but you keep inserting yourself subtly into the plot.

I do not like you.

Calm down, anime-version of Renge.
I don't like you either. 
I do not like you at all.

Dr. M

Dr. M: Day Seven--A manga you disliked enough to stop reading

I am a curmudgeonly old fart. There are a good 100 manga I have disliked enough to stop reading. I'm just glad that I get review copies from emanga, because that has saved me a billion dollars (not really). Now if I really like something I go buy it. It used to be that I would flip through copies at the store until I found something I liked. Also...libraries have more manga than they used to. I like that.

My name is Dr. M, and I have read some bad, bad manga. It's okay--only a few have scarred me for life. Sometimes that which has been seen/read cannot be unseen/unread.

Here are some things off the top of my head:

Mr. Tiger and Mr. Wolf- it's like the set up the premise only to forget it two seconds later (also, might be some sort of furry-hentai, but I can't inability to tell is a problem too. It could go either way.).

Prince of Ramen-Actually worth a read, if you can handle page after page of really obvious puns and over the top ridiculousness. Provides some much needed "Perfect Cup of Noodle" advice (pictured below)

There are other things, certainly, but I try to forget the awful stuff. I don't ever read it through entirely when it's bad.

Dr. M: Day Six--Your favorite character

I know you're wondering, Dear Readers...who among all the characters in all of manga-land is my favorite?

I am imagining all of you as the cast of Fake.
You're welcome! 

Who is the right combination of sexy, devil-may-care, tender, dorky, devoted and borderline psychotic? Who would I be content reading about in any incarnation?


You, Dee. You, okay?
Dee Laytner is a near-thirty-something detective for the NYPD...and just happens to be madly in love with his partner Ryo McClean. The two solve crimes, and are generally pretty bad-ass. They're also working through some childhood traumas, and the fact that Dee keeps trying to get all up in Ryo's biz. 

There's that sensitivity.
Quit pushing Ryo's boundaries, Dee. 

He's the right mix of hyper-cheesy and dude-you-do-not-want-to-eff-with. I like it. I like Dee. 
I will not! I do like you. You're like my favorite character in a manga ever.
Take the compliment, you weirdo. 
Dee has a heart of gold, behind his rough exterior...sometimes. Sometimes it's the heart of a pervert...which I'm okay with too. 

Dee may have a split personality.
He vacillates from intense to goofball on a regular basis. 

He's honest to a fault, secretly considerate (he doesn't want to mess with his tough-guy cred), kind of a doofus (not the smartest tool in the shed, but definitely a tool) and he's a good guy. A real good guy. Rough around the edges, but hopelessly devoted to those he loves. 

Dee at his NYPD finest! 
He loves kids (most of them), sports and really bad clothing. (Seriously, he is a horrible dresser.) He's loud, messy, crude and AWESOME! I like him so much that sometimes I want to shake Ryo for dissing him as often as he has. 

Dee pounce with nip-slip! 
When (SPOILER) Ryo finally gives in to Dee's advances I swooned, and then I was jealous. I want a Dee. Everyone wants a Dee. And if I ruled the world, everyone would have one...except for me because I would have two, and why shouldn't I? After all, I would be busy ruling the world. I'd deserve two. 

Dr. M: Day Five--A manga you would recommend to everyone

I am officially adding my voice to the I Love Fumi Yoshinaga Fanclub by requesting that everyone go out and read a copy of Flower of Life.

A High-school Story 
In a lot of ways the series is "just" a high-school story, but it's a high-school story that only Fumi Yoshinaga could have written.

It centers on two unlikely best friends, Haru and Shota, as they try to navigate their way through high-school and into adulthood. Their goal is to write/draw manga...but they aren't sure how to go about getting it published.

Haru has Leukemia and a crazy sister              Shota is chubby and adorable
There is also a cast of other characters. In a lot of ways the four-volume series is an ensemble piece with entwined and resonant story lines.

It's funny. Honest to a fault. Sad. Nostalgic. A little naughty at points. Poignant. Introspective. Ridiculous. Heart-warming. Troubling. It's a LOT, in a little space, yet so perfectly balanced and expressive that it never feels indulgent, or overwritten. I think this is my favorite of her works, and  I can't really imagine a single person who couldn't find their way into this slice-of-life series. I think even those, GASP!, manga haters would find something to love about this series.

Also, Shota is adorable.

My Favorite Mangaka

Yun Kouga?

Who is your favorite mangaka? Of course, I find this an unfair question. I don't have a favorite author or artist or director, so how can I answer this question at all?

I love stories. I love well told stories. And I like artful stories. And no, I don't think they always converge. For art, in manga, I like Yun Kouga, in the Loveless and Un-Go style. The characters are long and wispy, evocative and memorable. Just the other day, I had to use a band-aid, and I was reminded of Rituska who is so often depicted with a small bandage visible on his face.

This small addition reminds me of Ritsuka's circumstances: he's often abused at home by his mother. There's a wound hidden there. And there is a tie to Soubi, who also wears a bandage around his neck to hide the name carved there: Beloved.

Soubi and Ritsuka

Yun Kouga is a smart writer, too. Loveless is as exceedingly uncomfortable and upsetting as it is beautiful. But across the board, I'm not sure I'm a fan of everything Yun Kouga does. Earthian didn't have a consistent style, and I wasn't that into the story. Her other work is good, but not my "favorite."

For stories and for style, I love both Fumi Yoshinaga and Naoki Urasawa. Both are genius, and I can't choose between them.

I can't find an actual image of Fumi Yoshinaga (but this character seems to capture her spirit)

She's done some absolutely wonderful work, and among my favorite series of hers are Antique Bakery and Ooku. But, she has some one shots that I just truly admire, too. Not Love But Delicious Food Makes Me So Happy pretty much typifies my life, and I often think of All my Darling Daughters.

Naoki Urasawa. I am a fan.

Naoki Urasawa: I am a fan. If I could run away to Japan and study storytelling with this man, I would. Anyone want to send me? I will lend you my run of 20th/21st Century Boys, but you have to give it back.

Dr. M: Day Four-- A character you feel you are most like (or wish you were)

I will start with the "Character I feel I am most like," and then self-deprecate myself into who I "wish I were like" but first I have to say that for some reason this challenge was much easier with anime. Shakespeare and I completed a version with anime back in ye olde times (June 2011) you can go look at our answers if you want.

So, to answer this question, technically, I could just refer you to a 2011 post in which I claim that I am both versions of Nelliel Tu Odelschwank from Bleach.
Crazy girl-child and Badass Centaur Lady at the SAME TIME!
That's me. 
I mean, she IS in the manga! And if you want to click through, Dear Readers, you will see that I have some pretty good reasons for choosing this ousted Arancar as my "most like."

Or, I could try to make myself honest and ask where all the mangas about car obsessed, empoverished female college English instructors with pissy attitudes towards the world are located. They should be in Mechas...I am a machine. Or, maybe I'm a minor character. Someone's unnamed teacher in the background of some slice of life, school-days manga. Waaah! The thought makes me want to go rob a bank, just so I'll get my own storyline.

Who am I most like?

Shigure Sohma

Shigure Sohma. That picture above is pretty deceptive, if you have not read Fruits Basket...what a studious, smug person, you might be thinking. No...not really.

Shigure is a writer, who dabbles in both romance novels (under a pen name) and academic work. He is secretly one of the characters of the Chinese Zodiac...the dog. I like dogs. Shigure can be boisterous and flirtatious and pervy, but he also has a sort of dark, twisted side as well, which shows through on occasion. He refuses to wear socks or shoes, and is usually barefoot. I too am usually barefoot (ask around). He is lazy, and will get out of anything to complete his work, but always completes it. He's very reliable without seeming reliable at all. He can provide good advice, and is constantly telling others "Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡" in an attempt to calm them down, but he's not actually very "go with the flow." He holds grudges; he is spiteful; he is defensive of his family; he is capable of great kindnesses; he is easily bored and more easily distracted.

I don't look like this, but I make this face...a lot.
And then there's this:

Right on, Brother!
(Sz the lady who went to sleep at 5 am last night...why not?)
The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that I'm a chubbier, girl version of Shigure. I don't know that it's a good thing.

NOW, who do I want to be like?

This is Yuki Amalsy's Chibi (cutey) version of Dean Winchester.
Go check out more of her drawings on Deviant Art. 
Too bad Supernatural isn't a manga. Someone would just screw it up anyway (like the anime...I'm still sore about that)!

Yes, I still want to be Dean Winchester, mostly because I'd get to drive that car, and fight monsters. There isn't much better than that.