If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing for the last two years, I’ve been reading manga and webcomics for something like the last 4 months of it. The other 22 months, I’ve been asleep and at work.
This Top 5 Wednesday was supposed to be a free for all, so I’m using it to talk to you about some of the things that I’ve been reading since I’ve begun my journey with Manga and Webcomics. Some of them you may know, some of them you may not.
1. My Hero Academia
Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia (or, Boku No Hero Academia) is the story of a young boy named Izuku Midoriya’s quest to be the greatest hero that ever lived in a world where 80% of the population has powers, or quirks. It is not an easy road for Izuku as he is prone to injuries and can’t help getting involved in other people’s problems. But he’s terribly lovable, and you can’t help but root for him and his red sneakers.
To be quite honest, I actually got into My Hero Academia back in September. One of my homegirls was trying to get me into it long before, but I happened to be traveling back to the US in September and bucked up on a friend in Chicago with a VRV account.
I had originally only wanted to watch Gakuen Babysitters (School Babysitters), but I figured watching one episode of MHA wouldn’t hurt. Except I ended up watching two. I think I finished the whole thing in two weeks, which was great, but I was still too late for Two Heroes because I had literally just gotten into the show as it was in theaters. So I had the bright idea of reading the manga, and now I’ve fallen far down the rabbit hole.
It probably goes without saying that My Hero Academia is one of the most popular anime out right now, and a lot of it probably has to do with how closely is follows the manga. I can honestly say that it was a bit hard to get through the first 150 or so chapters simply because just about all of it is in the anime. However, I will say that seeing the character breakdowns and some of the tiny bits of backstory that didn’t get into the show are well worth it. There’s also the ability to be ahead of the curve in terms of the story. But the biggest payoff, in my opinion, is in reading the spinoffs, Vigilantes in particular.
Hideyuki Furuhashi’s My Hero Academia: Vigilantes is set a few years before the main manga, and is about Koichi Haimawari, a college student who part times as a vigilante hero trying to keep his neighborhood and friends around him safe. In process, he meets two fellow vigilantes, and eventually partners up with a few familiar faces.
The official synopsis says that Koichi didn’t make the cut to be a hero, but it’s really that he was so caught up in saving someone that he ended up missing the exam. I’ve seen some reviews, where people found this story to be boring, but I honestly found it to be quite enjoyable. As I’ve said before, this manga is the payoff because MHA pays so much attention to Izuku and his friends, but Vigilantes allows you to get to know the teachers before they were teachers, as well as some of the other heroes who didn’t get much shine in the main series.
I like that in Vigilantes you get to see how the regular people in this universe work. It’s illegal to use your quirk in public, but Koichi more often than not does it anyway because it makes his life easier. So it’s funny to see instances where he’s getting lectured by a cop for illegal quirk usage. I even like how we get to know how All Might gets a friend on the police force.
Vigilantes ties in well to the main manga without actually crossing over. You get to see where a lot of the problems started. Like Stain’s beginnings and why Aizawa became a teacher. There’s another big origin, but I’d be remiss to reveal it because the anime won’t touch it until October (in English, April in Japanese).
Still, I would recommend the read even if you don’t plan to touch the main manga. I think that Vigilantes can stand on it’s own. And if you want to read short, funny, chibified versions of scenes you’ve already seen and then some, there’s always Hirofumi Neda’s Boku No Hero Academia SMASH.
2. Queen of Ragtonia
Chika Shiomi’s Queen of Ragtonia is a quick read about a young princess hellbent on saving her country from the demons and necromancers that plagued them. Princess Faruna (or, Falna) was crippled and left with only one eye from an attack that had killed most of her family. She is befriended by the spirit of a long-dead warrior, and later meets a member of a deadly fighting force who helps her to regain what was taken from her.
I couldn’t tell you why it was I decided to read Queen of Ragtonia (or, Ragtonia), but I will say that I wish it had been made into an anime. It probably wouldn’t be the most popular, and it really does look like a lot of the other animes and mangas of it’s age, but I still think it deserved some screen time.
I kind of fell in love with Cardus and Falna. They were a great team, especially since they both seemed to have lost an eye, even though it was for entirely different reasons. I absolutely loved their backstories, and adored the ending when it came. I liked that a lot of the necromancers and demons were humans themselves, who all had complicated reasons for choosing black magic.
I’ll admit that there were some weird points in this manga – that would have been better straightened out in an anime – but I never held it against the story in general. Falna spent majority of the story on Cardus’s shoulder, and, when she wasn’t, always managed to find an anime big enough to carry her. This was actually explained, but it never stopped being weird. Oh, and the spirit friend of hers? Not creepy, but definitely weird, and I really wish we had gotten more backstory on him.
I’d recommend it to anyone though. Queen of Ragtonia, really would have been a great one season manga in the same vein as Vision of Excaflowne (I’ll probably be ready that one next). It has all of the elements: pretty princess, hot hero, legendary sword, and semi-complicated villains. For a fantasy lover like me, that’s enough to get me reading.
3. Lore Olympus
Rachel Smythe’s Lore Olympus can only be described as a modern retelling of Hades and Persephone. Persephone is the young goddess of spring in her first year of college and living away from her. During her first party in Olympus, she catches the eye of the broody god of the Underworld, Hades. It gets interesting from there.
Hi, my name is Eurydice Howell, and I minored in Classical Mythology. My absolute favorite myth, besides Orpheus and Eurydice, is Hades and Persephone. Even Cupid and Psyche couldn’t top it. I am down for this myth. Yes, some people write it as rape, it is definitely incestuous, and he really did kidnap her, but I will stan for this myth like I stan for Anakin Skywalker. I admit that my problematic faves are problematic.
In any case, I love the story. I love that Hades runs the underworld like he runs a corporation. I love that Persephone has a scholarship from the cult of eternal virginity. I love that Zeus is still a dog, and Poseidon is a grown up frat boy. I love that we get to see Cronus taking his children from Rhea and eating them.
I am ecstatic that Smythe doesn’t skip the fact that Apollo is a damn rapist. Like, yes, Zeus is technically one too, but I’m still mad about Cassandra. I was deep into the Trojan War when I was 12, and that never left me.
I can honestly say it was probably Tumblr that got me to Lore Olympus, although my favorite recommender did give me a heads up about it. Still, it was the artwork that caught my eye, though I would have never truly bothered if no one hadn’t told me what it was about. I’ll swallow this myth in every form because I am such a big fan.
And I couldn’t tell you why. I can’t outright say that Hades didn’t cheat on his wife like his brothers did theirs, but I will say that the respect that Persephone was given was almost unparalleled. Hera was literally ruining lives and throwing children off of cliffs; Persephone didn’t care if you didn’t think she was pretty enough, but you still had to beg her to get your dead wife back. My girl had pull like you wouldn’t believe.
Yes, I am an uber fan of Hades and Persephone, and I recommend Lore Olympus to anyone else that is.
4. I Love Yoo
Quimchee’s I Love Yoo is going to be the next big K-drama starring Kim Go Eun, and no one can tell me different. It’s about a Korean girl named Yoo Shin-ae who has what is probably the most unfortunate life this side of homelessness, abuse, and prostitution. Her mother left with her sister when she was young, her father is super overworked and drank himself into a coma, and she has somehow managed to get caught up in a love triangle with two very rich half brothers. Too bad Shin-ae doesn’t even have time to figure out love for herself.
My friend, Dee, has some of the best recommendations and this is definitely one of them. I’ve seen quite a few webcomic-turned-K-dramas, but I’ve never gotten the chance to catch one while it was being written. Cheese in the Trap and Bride of the Water God, were my absolute faves, so it’s hard not to see I Love Yoo not going down that route as well. And I just know that Kim Go Eun would knock it out of the park.
I Love Yoo is 88 chapters of K-Drama craziness with no end in sight. We have reached the climax of one problem, but I’d be lying if I said that this story was half way over. There is no clear love interest in this game, and we have 3 prospects. It’s definitely a high school drama with the potential to be like The Heirs where we follow the characters into college.
(I’ll never pretend to understand the Korean High School system because these K-dramas really have me feeling me feeling like the characters do too much to be regular high school students.)
5. The Seven Deadly Sins
Nakuba Suzuki’s The Seven Deadly Sins (or, Nanatsu no Taizai) is the story of a powerful group of knights accused of killing their grandmaster and attempting to overthrow the monarchy. When the kingdom is threatened, Princess Elizabeth of Lioness sets out to find the Seven Deadly Sins and get them to save it from destruction.
I have two popular anime on this list, and I know that some of you are wondering why I would bother to recommend their mangas. Simple: despite how closely these anime follow their mangas, they don’t tell you everything. In the age old question of book or movie (anime or manga), I will always choose the book because film and television are too finite to do what imagination and a good story can.
I like the Seven Deadly Sins anime, despite how annoying Elizabeth’s voice is. I like the stories, and the characters, and the decision to flesh out everyone’s back story. I like that it keeps you guessing. I love that the anime attempts to straighten out things that are a little confusing in the manga. I don’t like how the anime feels rushed and tends to leave some loose ends in comparison. I like that Meliodas and his brothers are all copies of each other, which leads me to believe that Meliodas is a whole demon and not half-human like the anime originally implied.
I recommend the manga because, again, every few chapter there’s a story that didn’t show up in the anime. I watched the first season of the anime twice, so I can tell you there’s some differences going on in the manga. I like that you can better understand why Jericho was so hellbent on being better than her brother. I like the extra stuff you get to know about Ban and Elaine’s relationship.
I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of the relationships in the this story are sketchy simply due to how the characters are drawn, but I ship just about all of them. King and Diane are a big fave, Ban and Elaine are my OTP despite Elaine looking like a 12-year-old, and then there’s Elizabeth and Meliodas’s fit-for-a-hentai totally-fan-service she’s-only-sixteen romance. I would ship Gowther with Slader, but the manga doesn’t seem to want to return to that, and I know Guila won’t take Gowther back.
Still, I recommend The Seven Deadly Sins, all things considered. Because as much fan service as there is, it really is a good story. However, that’s ultimately up to the reader to decide.
Before I go, it would be wrong of me not to speak on Juichi Yamaki’s Mayoe! The Seven Deadly Sins Academy (or, Mayoe! Nanatsu no Taizai Gakuen because I read that before I even touched the main manga. I originally thought that it was a doujinshi, but it’s actually a spin-off where all of the characters are in high school. It makes no sense whatsoever, but it’s definitely a hilarious read. The wild part is that it’s actually one of many spin-offs that you only need to take your time to search for to read. I definitely recommend it if you’re like me and like to read everything in a series.
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All Images courtesy of Goodreads.