Current Manga Rankings – 2011 – Part 1
I started reading manga a few years ago, and in that length of time I’ve acquired a surprising number of ongoing series. They have quite a bit of variety to them, from shonen to josei, weekly to whenever-the-hell-it-feels-like. I’ve had the chance to talk about quite a few of these series, and even reviewed some of them already. Since it’s the end of the year, though, I thought I would take the opportunity to rank all of my ongoing manga. This way I can discuss some series I couldn’t before, and I can state which manga I like the most and why.
Here’s the thing about Bleach: it’s the one series on this list that I never read the old chapters for. It’s not something I would do by choice, but then again, I never really intended to start reading Bleach at all. One day I heard that the manga would be showing Gin’s bankai, so I read that chapter to see it and just didn’t stop. That’s a big part of why I find it so hard to get mad at this series. It takes a good deal of effort to feel anything towards it, really. I’ve been told that not caring about something is one of the cruelest things you can do to it, and that’s why it gets the lowest spot on this list.
Not that I don’t have manga I dislike, of course. I remember back when I was just getting into manga, I had the choice to buy a copy of either D.Gray-man or Hunter x Hunter. I chose poorly. Now the beginning of the series was great, no question, but that didn’t last. Reading the most recent chapters, I honestly don’t know if even the creator knows what’s happening. The plot has just been creating more and more conflict without any indication that things will get resolved. Most of the cast haven’t really done anything in a long time, to the point where it’s easy to forget that people like Lavi and Miranda are still around. And for some reason it feels like we’re supposed to sympathize with the clearly evil characters, including the one who tried to crush Allen’s heart once. It’s going to take a lot of rebuilding before this series can become good again, or even before it feels like it regained its plot.
28. Sukitte Ii Na Yo
Okay, I’m going to have to explain this one, since I doubt anybody has read this but me. Sukitte Ii Na Yo is a shojo about Tachibana, a socially messed up girl falling into a relationship with Kurosawa, a stereotypically perfect guy. He’s kinda pushy about it, too.
Remember how I said Kazehaya from Kimi ni Todoke was not really as perfect as he might at first appear? In my mind I was comparing him to the lead from this series. This is a guy who, no joke, is given a modeling contract at one point, becomes even more popular, then gives it up because Tachibana is bothered by it. This is exactly the sort of behavior people avoid most shojo for. I started it because I saw it had sold well in Japan (and because it was categorized as “smut”, despite nothing I read indicating it should have that), but it just feels so generic I’m not sure why I should care.
27. Soul Eater Not!
So, they made a spin-off of Soul Eater. I was a lot more interested in this series at first because it gave us the chance to see what Shibusen is really like. What I didn’t expect was that a series about a group of moè schoolgirls and their everyday antics…might not result in the action series I expected. At the start, I was wondering how a combination with 1 weapon and 2 meisters could possibly work. 10 chapters later I still don’t know, because the action only rarely factors in. There’s just enough going on that I’m still interested, but I hope something more substantial happens soon.
Also, I’m about 99% sure the main character likes girls. She may like boys too, but she’s been turned on by other girls enough that it would be even more unusual for her to not like them.
26. Seitokai Yakuindomo
This happens a lot with anime spun off from manga. Once the anime ends, I go track down the manga to see more of the ongoing story. The thing is that it’s very rare for the manga and anime to have the same overall feel. Sometimes the manga is an improvement, and sometimes it isn’t. This wasn’t.
More than any other comedy I’ve seen, Seitokai Yakuindomo has a lot of trouble moving beyond the initial gimmick. Hearing the incredibly dirty thoughts of the characters is a nice change of pace at the beginning, but it eventually loses its originality. The anime mixed this up with other types of humour, such as longer fourth-wall jokes, but the original manga is mostly content with staying the way it is. It’s pretty common to be able to guess the punchline of a joke after one or two panels, which is not the sort of feeling you should be getting from a comedy.
This series placed very low for a couple reasons. There’s the fact that it’s the newest series on this list, so there hasn’t been much time to get into it or for it to develop. There’s also the fact that I’m not a big fan of tsunderes in general. I always believed that a good relationship requires the characters to communicate on a roughly equal level, which tsunderes are extremely bad at. It helps a bit that the male lead is capable of talking down to her as well, but it doesn’t do the best job at portraying a relationship. We’ve been getting the occasional scene where they stop hating each other for a few pages, and those are easily the highlights of the manga. If it wants to get my attention, I think it needs to move past the tsundere behavior we’ve seen a thousand times and get the real plot moving.
24. Fairy Tail
Fairy Tail was one of the first manga I started reading, and I really thought it was a much better series back then. It had some good arcs in it, and I really didn’t have the same dislike for some of the plot elements as other people did. This may or may not have had something to do with me marathoning the Tower of Paradise arc in a day, so the whole Gerard-Erza relationship didn’t have time to sink in with me. After almost two years of reading week-to-week, though, a lot of the little things started getting to me. The characters never stood out, aside from Lucy, and it was rare for their fights to have any real weight to them. The deus ex machinas and emphasis on friendship quickly started to weigh down the series too much. I’ll still probably enjoy the action in Fairy Tail, but I’ve gone past the point where I considered the story any good.
23. Blue Exorcist
Blue Exorcist is one of those unfortunate series where it feels like I should be enjoying it more than I am. I’ve seen lots of stereotypical shonen, so I know that this isn’t it. The characters in general seem to be more three dimensional than many others, with actual lives, beliefs and interconnected relationships. It really does seem like it’s trying to be much better than the “Let’s Kill Satan” premise would suggest. Even knowing that, I find it difficult to get into this series. It has a stronger focus on the larger world the characters live in, but that world isn’t really that interesting. For instance, there’s been a longer storyline about several sects of monks who are tasked with guarding miasma-generating artifacts, and the focus has been mostly on the monks, rather than the actually interesting main characters. It’s a shame, because I could probably enjoy this series a lot more if it just knew where to put all that effort.
22. Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai
You know, this series is actually a lot like Seitokai Yakuindomo, only it has more of a plot and less likable characters. I suppose having nice, approachable characters in a series about social misfits is somewhat counterintuitive, but it’s still possible to have characters that aren’t annoying in this situation. Rika and Kobato are good examples of this. In particular, I’m not sure if Sena’s massive ego was played up here or downplayed in the anime, but it came through very strongly. I already spoke about Yozora, but she at least was more balanced with Sena in this version. I’m thankful this series has a much better lead character than most harems, because there needs to be a reminder of why we’re supposed to care about anyone as more than just punchlines.
21. Persona 4
From a purely artistic standpoint, I think I prefer the manga version of Persona 4 to the anime. The characters are far more expressive and stylized here, which I think comes from the manga generally not trying to match the exact art style of the game.
In terms of the actual story, it’s a bit more complicated. One frequent complaint about the anime was that it didn’t capture the actual dramatic feel of a lot of the scenes. The manga is better at that, but in exchange it leaves out quite a lot. In particular, the early appearance of Mitsuo was missing, which is supposed to be the foreshadowing for a major event later on. Plus everything is much more straight-forward than the anime, so we never get anything like what happened with episode 12. Apart from that, there’s really not a whole lot to say that I didn’t say with the anime version. If the most negative thing about it is that there’s a better version out there, then I suppose it turned out alright.
This is a fun little series. Here’s the basic synopsis: the main characters represent a fighting style. Their enemies are other fighting styles. They fight. There’s really not a whole lot to it aside from that, which is what makes it so difficult to put together posts for it. When fights take multiple chapters to complete and they’re mostly against members of the same organization, it does sometimes feel a little same-y. Still, it was clear early on that this series only had one thing on its mind, which made it considerably easier to like than certain other shonen. On some level you have to respect a series where the protagonist slashes a guy across the eyes in the third chapter.
Even I’m a little surprised how often I discuss this series, considering its place on this list. I like reading it, but I was never as enthralled as with a lot of other manga. And I’ve already gone on about the faulty logic that drives this series in the review, but it has yet to start making any sense. In spite of all that, I enjoy this series for the same reason I enjoyed Gamaran: it managed to stay exciting throughout. The reason it places higher is because it also keeps the reader on their toes. I’ve spent the last little while genuinely concerned whether a particular character was going to die or not, which is not a feeling that’s easy to produce with me. I still don’t know for sure how it’s going to end, but as long as it doesn’t involve any Evangelion shoutouts, it should be a good ending.
18. Dengeki Daisy
Ah, Dengeki Daisy. More than any other series, this is the one I’ve wanted to a rant about, but couldn’t. Looking at the reviews for it, the general consensus seems to be that it’s a much better written version of a stereotypical shojo series. This would be a lot better if I actually enjoyed reading those kinds of stories, but I really don’t. That doesn’t stop the central relationship from being interesting, though. I kind of compare it to if Nao from Liar Game fell in love with Ichigo from early Bleach (and not just because the guy’s name is Kurosaki). There’s enough here that I can understand why other people enjoy it so much, since it’s currently among the top manga on MyAnimeList, but I was never able to fall in love with it in the same way. I just like it as a friend is all, and I know of more enjoyable shojo out there. Case in point…
17. Bokura ga Ita
This was one of a number of series I picked up because my local library just happened to have it in stock. 12 volumes of it! Before this was Lovely Complex, and before that was Fruits Basket. So I picked up this series, and I was hooked! The story was fascinating and the characters were interesting and well written. After finishing all those, I went on to read the remaining chapters online. Annnnnnd that’s when it grinded to a halt.
I’ve seen this happen before, where the overall pacing of a series gradually slows down as it goes on. I thought something was wrong earlier when a flashback took two and a half volumes to complete, but that was at least important. The early manga was interesting enough that it’s very odd looking at the two side-by-side. I’ll even go so far as to say the beginning could have easily been in the top 10, and many of the more recent chapters could have been in the bottom 10. Recently the series has actually been taking big steps toward the conclusion, which is what earned it a higher spot. Bokura ga Ita is actually supposed to be finishing in February, so look forward to that post as well. I only hope it doesn’t have the super-depressing ending the most recent chapter seemed to hint at.
16. A Certain Scientific Railgun
Let me start off by saying the fight between Mikoto and Team ITEM is one of my favourite in any manga. It was fast, intense and very creative.
I really liked the storylines from the segments of the anime that actually had stories. However, something I’ve noticed is that until the end of those stories, they had very little of what the series arguably exists for: Biribiri blowing shit up! This is what makes the manga so good, because it figured out that her role during the Sisters Arc started with her burning government facilities to the ground, and they played that up as far as they could. I honestly didn’t read the chapters that were covered in the anime, so my experience with this series just consists of the Sisters Arc and the early School Festival arc, which is looking…okay, so far. I think we’re about to get Misaka Imouto wrecking people, so that’s good to know. So far it’s been a fun read, and while I don’t know how the rest of the story will turn out, it should be interesting to find out.
Posted on December 30, 2011, in A Certain Scientific Railgun, Blue Exorcist, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Bokura ga Ita / We Were There, D.Gray-man, Deadman Wonderland, Dengeki Daisy, Fairy Tail, Gamaran, Nisekoi, Persona 4: The Animation, Seitokai Yakuindomo, Soul Eater Not, Sukitte Ii Na Yo, Top Lists and tagged manga, rankings. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.