It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these lists – a combination of real life, work and a lot of pain have stopped me being active on the blogs and forum in general – I don’t really comment so much on new anime (and the amount of stuff I now have to review is getting ‘trying to find room’ worthy. However, I remember watching an anime of something recently and just remember…

‘Man, the manga was so much better…’

And indeed, a lot of anime has to be chopped and changed to fit in to a 13 or 26 episode ratio when based on an manga. This usually makes the original manga works better than their anime counterparts. Some are completely different because of this with characters/scenarios you aren’t familiar with because the anime doesn’t showcase them when you see the show first before you read the manga.

So what are my top 10 manga then? I had a long think about this because it is really hard to choose and see what I feel are the best. I have a few honourable mentions of course and as usual, a few rules.

Must be a manga released in English and has been completed – that means any of the trademark long runners (like One Piece which is a fave of mine) is excluded unless they have been finished, and no ones where online they have translations and finished. These are my top 10 favourite mangas with an honourable mention or two on the way;

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HONOURABLE MENTION 1:

GALS – The Gals manga actually was a really good read and one of the few CMX releases that didn’t get butchered. It told a few stories a bit different, some good, some bad (felt Harue was done far better in the anime, but some of the S2 anime stuff was pretty silly) and ended with a perfect conclusion – all the characters from the anime are involved and there are lots of expanded stories as it gets the time to develop much better than you’d expect – recommended if you can get it nowadays.

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#10 CHIBI VAMPIRE (KARIN)


Honestly? The worst thing about the manga is just the title – I am aware because Kami Karin was out that they didn’t want to get confused, but seriously? Chibi Vampire? Since when was Karin chibi? (Le sigh)…O.K…off topic.

The Karin anime was one of those ones that actually was mostly good if it wasn’t for a few things – their original character was annoying, the dub was pretty poor and the conclusion was a bit silly considering the drama that occurred before hand. Granted, there were some moments that were so strong (Anju’s awakening was as powerful as the mangas in a very different way) but the manga really became a firm favourite once I realised Winner wasn’t in it. It was supplemented by some light novels which Tokyopop actually did release most of them bar I think the last one and some did get incorporated into the manga. And yes, there are some comedy moments of course but there is a lot of heart in the story – Fumio’s pheremones are both as hilarious and as tragic as you expect, but the fact you get to see her as an action mom, the arc with Unsui actually speaking to his father and how his background came about, which does showcase his money mentality makes him one of the more likeable male leads. The family is still awesome, with Henry and Anju of course being the most likeable outside of Karin herself, you get some nice side stories scattered throughout, but what most people remember the most is the ending.

Holy crap – first of all (and of course, SPOILERS) the fact that Karin’s condition actually has a link to lineage of vampires adds the creep and fear factor high – seeing her tear up whilst everyone else around her is delighted that she will be a sacrifice for the greater good (vampires fertility – yes, this is a plot point, and yes, it is important). Second, just seeing how in front of her these other vampire families delight about talking about draining her blood, but not before trying to create a lineage for future generations (yes, they are outright talking about RAPING her to create a child for the future before draining her) and actually are shocked she gets upset about it and very non-chalant, instant villain hatred there. Thirdly, how the family becomes so badass by the end (Elda is still a real fear implement, but seeing Ren, freaking Ren, the meaner older brother defend his sister…albeit with some methods that aren’t quite er…yeah…that was creepy and the fact they make it comic does send some double standards, the one real glitch I guess) and finally, that oh so sad ending. It’s very bittersweet to say the least but again, Ren showing he truly does care about his sister and always has…and is the one that changes everything.

And anything involving Anju and Karin is just as heartwarming/heartbreaking as it is in the anime. ANYTHING.

It’s in truth, a family story both with the vampire family, and the budding romance between Unsui and Karin makes it one of the strongest romantic comedies in the manga universe, but with plenty of drama, family history and of course, blood, to make it a lot more than that.

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#9 MAISON IKOKU

For me, this is Takahashi’s best work. Whilst Ranma ½ got me into manga and anime, both of them felt very rushed by the end (for different reasons, anime finished way before the manga concluded, manga tried to rush potential pairs for fan favourite characters Ryoga and Ukyo, which made the finale with the attempted wedding of Akane and Ranma seem very WTF…) – Maison came before and is one of these works where both manga and anime are very well done – they both suffer from one thing which is why it isn’t a bit higher, but it is still one of the classics.

Maison Ikoku at heart is a budding romance story. What makes it interesting is that it really takes it time to tell that story. Over 4 years pass before the eventual wedding between our two leads, and there is a lot to go through. Both main leads, Godai and Kyoko, go through a lot of character development (Godai from slightly perverted, shy, idiot to becoming a working man and trying to create a future, whilst Kyoko has to develop from being recently widowed to trying to move on with her life with two suitors as well as rivals and family issues) whilst juggling the hubbaloo of Maison Ikoku.

It’s greatest strength is that it is a developing romance that has love at first sight syndrome with Godai, and he is quite the annoying character at first, and throughout the series he doesn’t really lose his wishy-washy nature. However this points out that character flaws can’t vanish easily, he needs to work to get in society, and the amount of hardships he suffers at least makes him quite realistic. In fact, the manga itself is very realistic, considering Godai has to avoid being blackmailed by tenants, school girls, etc whilst juggling college, work and the pursuit of Kyoko.

Maison’s main flaw though is can you stand the characters through some antics? The rival character Mitaka is a strong one – he’s handsome, wealthy and clearly loves Kyoko – he is someone Godai cannot be, so he has to make it up to her in different ways. The flaw Mitaka gets is quite hilarious and it does lead to an interesting (if whilst not completely rushed, would admit feels like a bit of a cop out to make sure he doesn’t get Kyoko) way that he gets out of the love triangle. The main issue you may have is just how Godai really is the chew toy for the rest of the tenants, which let’s face it, range from fairly likeable (the Ichinose’s) to complete arseholes (Yotsuya) who have a me, myself and I attitude and live solely for causing Godai’s hell. Sure, there are a few pet the dog moments, but these only come about nearer the end of the series (Akemi, the other main tenant actually is the one that orchestrates them getting together…by basically coming on to Godai. So yeah, mixed blessing…). However, through these meetings and scenarios, Godai does learn to be stronger and Kyoko does learn her own patience around them, especially considering her own family and her late husband’s family…

Maison is a work that whilst flawed, is one of the classic romance stories of the olden generation – I have the original copies of the manga still and they will continue to be re-read in the future.

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#8 DANCE IN THE VAMPIRE BUND

Probably the most recent entry to the list, I will admit I heard of these series via the anime more than anything. And heard not that many good things…O.K, let me rephrase that – it wasn’t exactly a series that didn’t bring controversy (i.e. the initial censoring Funimation were going to do because of the loli-vampire service despite Mina’s age, it’s still very squick). However, I got to watch this because it was on my UK Review pale and…it wasn’t actually that bad I thought. Yes, some of the fanservice is on the ^_^ side, but the actual characterization and story wasn’t bad at all – just suffered from being cut too quickly. This was where one of my friends said that the manga is a million times better.

So I gave it a shot.

And totally agreed with him.

Again, the fanservice is very off-putting so you need to try and overlook that. If you do, then you’ve got a fantastic vampire story. The queen, Mina, is actively trying to create a safe haven for her vampires, using her mass wealth to do so, whilst using a childhood friend Akira, as her bodyguard, who she meets after several years. Akira’s memory had been repressed but everything comes flooding black to him – and the fact he is part werewolf. So it’s combined the supernatural with the mundane, as Akira’s high school life now has to incorporate the fact there is a vampire leading their school…who can either be vicious and mean…or adorable and tsundere.

One manga which missed the list just was Hellsing – and the main reason was whilst it is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, the over the top art style really takes getting used to – and whilst I can’t enjoy some of the fanservice and stuff that happens, the story and design is fantastic. I love the sub-collections of vampires *the fangless who rip off their fangs to show they aren’t a threat to humans, those awesome kids who help Akira, etc* combined with the other characters (Ange, a werewolf childhood friend of Akira’s, switches from good to bad throughout the series and is so fascinating with his history with Akira, which of course with his good looks adds the yaoi innuendo of the series which I actually enjoyed reading, it is countered by Yuki and Mina’s yuri innuendo though so ) – the characters are the core to the manga – Akira’s once love interest Yuki becomes an incredibly important character despite being a human girl, as a confidant to Mina even when bad stuff happens to her – the later arcs when a fake Mina tries to usurp her, the fact three lords are suspicious about Mina not being able to become an adult (she can, and they want to impregnate her for future generations, but Mina is in love with Akira and doesn’t want to be taken without consent obviously), Mina’s mother, Akira’s father, the wolf knights, they all really are integrated with each other in such a fascinating story that I actually prefer it to Hellsing (though Hellsing Ultimate the anime is far superior to Vampire Bund the anime so don’t lynch me Hellsing fans ^^) in terms of the pure vampire story. It has great elements of horror, fantasy, comedy, and character that it shot up to one of my favourite mangas in a shot.

Just make sure to keep an open mind with some of the imagery…

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