2014 was a very busy year for me. The bulk of my research was done during this year and in terms of manga reading, I actually spent more time catching up or reading manga related to my research more than reading all the new manga I bought. But I did try.
Most of the manga listed here were read in transits or when I needed something to put me to sleep. Not that these manga were so boring that it put me to sleep! That’s not the case at all! If anything, these manga were my favorite reads because I actually remembered their titles. And trust me, with a year added to my belt, my memory’s fading fast that it’s a miracle I remembered these titles!
Many of these manga are in digital out of ease (although that didn’t stop me from buying physical manga). Digital manga became very accessible to me especially after a little incident pushed me to switch to a new device. After opening a Japanese Itunes account, a whole new world of manga became very accessible to me. It has been both my blessing and my misery. Just when a good number of folks have grown weary of manga, my love for manga just grew stronger this year.
With that in mind, here are my favorite reads in 2014!
Ajin by Tsuina Miura and Gamon Sakurai
Seinen | Available via Crunchyroll Manga and Vertical
I find the idea of immortality appealing, especially when it allows you to draw some shadowy figures whom you can teach to do some errands. Well, certainly that’s not what Ajin do but they’ve proven to be intelligent immortal ‘beings’ who are just a spirit away from being ‘human’. In fact, I’d like to believe they are human but people in the series refuse to believe so. Ajin’s a lot more complicated than a bunch of immortals running for their lives. Somewhere along the way, it surprisingly became a poignant human drama about people who sought to control what was unknown to them. The story often touches upon moral issues, many of which involves our mortality and our vehemence towards difference. This story has left me at the edge of my seat, wincing over some guts spewed while reflecting about my own mortality and how lives shouldn’t go to waste.
Busamen Danshi (ugly boy – how to get a handsome boyfriend) by Chiyoko Nonomiya
BL | Available via E-Renta, EbookJapan, and Line Manga
Busamen Danshi features a parallel love triangle where two guys fall in love with their best friend who equally loved them both. I am rarely a fan of threesomes because that often lead to hot messes but Busamen Danshi was handled quite pleasantly that it left a good aftertaste even when it appeared like a clusterfuck. The art was cute and the characters ended with a generosity that made me believe that threesomes are awesome. After reading Busamen Danshi, threesomes became my jam and OT3 dynamics became legit. This was not good, of course, for my ever growing fujoshi armada.
In Clothes Called Fat by Moyoco Anno
Josei | Available via Vertical
I don’t think I’ll ever be over this title. It’s too close to home but at the same time it’s just a compelling read. Moyoco Anno’s story about a woman’s struggle with her self-image and relationships is an interesting commentary about women’s lives and their daily struggle to fit in society’s “ideal woman”. It is not the easiest read but it is a must read for women.
Investor Z by Norifusa Mita
Seinen | Available via Crunchyroll Manga
Never did I realise that this year would be the year I would be so hooked on a manga about investments. I shun EVERYTHING related to numbers and yet here I am amused with Japan’s war and post-war economies! WHAT THE FRACK! Set in some super-elite private school (that probably only exists in manga) where the kids get top of the class education without having to pay a cent, Investor Z reveals the ease and risks that comes with investments. It even has a compelling semi-historical story to back it up! I honestly don’t know how kids manage to do investments but it seems to be feasible as seen in Investor Z.
Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice) by Yoshitoki Oima
Shonen | Available in Crunchyroll Manga and Kodansha
I read this series mostly out of curiosity however, it hit me with a wave of emotions that made me hate and love humanity altogether. It’s one of the few manga that runs in Crunchyroll Manga and it turned out to be a masterpiece. This was the first manga I’ve read where a character deals with someone with a hearing disability. Perhaps the only seishun manga I’ve read that deals with how children cope and grow up with a disability. Many of Shouko’s experiences with bullying were quite confronting and yet I am perpetually amazed with how she moves on with a smile. This one’s not an easy read but it does have a satisfying ending. This one’s a beautiful and heart-wrenching story and truly merits its recognition as the best series in Comic Natalie’s best manga of 2014.
Last Game by Shinobu Amano
Shojo | Available in iBooks Japan, EbookJapan, and Line Manga
I am a sucker for idiots. I am also a sucker for romances with two dimwits in it. At a time when I thought Margaret owned me, I end up reading this romantic comedy from Lala about a guy who loves a girl who seems to misunderstand his every effort in showing her affection. It’s almost like Ouran without the fancy helicopters and Takarazuka rival school. Instead, it focuses on the growth of the protagonists as they learn each other’s peculiar ways of showing affection. It’s a hilarious love story that has kept me in tears either out of joy or, more of than not, in frustration. Just read it! But don’t tell me I didn’t warn you that this’ll keep you in agony!
Otoko no Isshou by Keiko Nishi
Josei | Available via iBooks Japan, EbookJapan, and Line Manga
This was a difficult choice because this was the year that I read A LOT of Nishi Keiko and it’s all because of this title. I honestly wanted to place Ane no Kekkon too but since that title is still making me go insane, I went with this, which has been wonderfully finished. This title ticks all my obachan woes (too busy and too tired to find new love) and ojichan love (intelligent, witty, if not, a bit snarky old man with glasses. ugh. the glasses bit was a killer.). Not that I find fantasy in an old guy suddenly invading my home but this story has enough charm to make me feel giddy over sharing house with an old man. It also has a movie coming out next year and god, is that oyaji looking lethal. All oyaji are lethal.
BL | Available via EbookJapan and Amazon Japan
Nakamura Asumiko is back along with her boys — Sajou, Kusakabe, and their friends — for a short reunion of sorts to see how everyone’s been since we’ve last read them. OB, short for Occupation to Beloved, captures the same softness and warmth the earlier Dokyuusei series had. The narratives are woven in between glimpses of Kusakabe’s holiday in Sajou’s new residence in Kyoto. It’s a delightful read for fans of the series who would love to read updates on their favorite characters. And for those who haven’t read the Dokyuusei series (Dokyuusei/Classmates, Sotsugyousei/Graduates, and Sora to Hara), OB offers lovely perspectives on human relationships. It’s so awesome that it’s even voted as this year’s Kono BL ga Yabai, proving Nakamura Asumiko’s prowess in BL.
P to JK by Maki Miyoshi
Shoujo | Available via EbookJapan, Amazon Japan, IBooks Japan, and Line Manga
I started reading this title after Line Manga gave a one volume preview. After the first volume, I ended up buying the rest. This manga showed me the dangers of Line Manga (and how I really have low EQ) as well as handsome policemen. How could I honestly resist this cute May-December love affair between a high school girl who accidentally dates a policeman?! Can you imagine a policeman dating a high school girl!?! It’s a disaster waiting to happen but it was done tastefully well that I was basking in warm fuzzy feelings after reading this title. A sensible and funny May-December policeman-high school girl shojo story!? Is that even possible? P to JK showed me it does.
BL | Available via EbookJapan, Amazon Japan, and Line Manga
I love reading about office romances but I’m grateful that for once, this office romance didn’t involve as much suits or salarymen. Tokyo Shinchuu was something I picked up after seeing its cute covers. I wavered in resisting to read this title until it topped last year’s Kono BL ga Yabai 2014. Unlike most BL office romances, it’s set in a TV production office hence most of the characters are running around, making sure a TV show looks perfect. It’s a refreshing break from the usual desk job setting. It doesn’t help that Yano’s irresistible as a tsundere boss! His relationship with his assistant, Miyasaka is also organic and casual, absent of any heavy drama but with enough feels to pull your heartstrings. I got hooked on this series quite quickly and I honestly wish it could go on forever.
Yowamushi Pedal by Wataru Watanabe
Shonen | Available via EbookJapan, Amazon Japan, IBooks Japan, and Line Manga. The anime is available via Crunchyroll.
If there’s one series that sent me to hell, it’s this one. One of my cyclist friends was totally enthusiastic over this series and I thought I might enjoy it since he was a sensible friend who had good tastes. And he’s not even a fujoshi, yeah? But god, this series just sent this fujoshi in crazy mode. Months after reading this, I’ve got a private twitter for all my pedal needs and I’m in the process of writing my first dojinshi for a ship in Yowapeda. OTL. THIS SERIES IS BAD FOR ME. Who knew that an otaku boy’s weekly ride from Chiba to Akihabara would send him to the top of the cycling world (and my fujojo heart). I didn’t. Although technically, it’s his senior that really got me. Honestly, who doesn’t love Makishima-senpai?
God, what a year. How I wish I had the energy to write all of the amazing things that I’ve read in the last year. I’ll eventually get to it. Hopefully.
If anything, I’d also like to take this opportunity for the number of people who still come by and read my posts. I’ve been running this blog for some while and sometimes I wonder if people even read it. XD Apparently, I have nothing to worry about because you guys do and I am grateful. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and here’s hoping we have another great year of manga ahead!