Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: Gachiakuta, vol. 1 by Kei Urana (story) and Hideyoshi Andou (graffiti design)

  • Gachiakuta, vol. 1
  • by Kei Urana (story) and Hideyoshi Andou (graffiti design)
  • Kodansha Comics
  • Publication Date: January 16, 2024
  • ISBN-13: 979-8888770207

Rampant consumerism is encouraged in a particular floating town, and affluent citizens discard valuable items instead of repairing them. Rudo lives in the slums and sees use in what gets thrown away. Exiled into the Pit when he is wrongly accused and convicted of murder, Rudo finds more than garbage in this eerie wasteland. The careless wastefulness of the townspeople has created literal monsters that the Cleaners battle. Rudo must join them to discover the truth and fight for freedom.

Kei Urana’s dystopian world-building is impressive, painting a vivid picture of a society that values trash more than people. Hideyoshi Andou’s design brings this world to life; from the towering megacities to the barren wastelands below, every aspect of the world feels meticulously crafted and brimming with detail, inviting readers to lose themselves in the bold art style that captures the kinetic energy of the multiple conflicts. Beyond its immersive world-building, this story tackles weighty themes with intelligence and nuance. Questions of ethics, morality, and the nature of humanity weave into a compelling narrative.Fans of Chainsaw Man will see Rudo as a similarly flawed hero who must fight a rigged system to free himself from subjugation. Urana’s dynamic battle scenes will delight readers of Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama. Readers can find similar stories and themes in Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro and Chris Gooch’s Under-Earth. Volume 2 will be released on April 30, 2024.

Patricia Jimenez

Other Nominated Titles

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Insomniacs After School by Makoto Ojiro

  • Insomniacs After School, Vol. 1
  • by Makoto Ojiro
  • VIZ Media
  • Publication Date: March 21, 2023
  • ISBN-13: ‎9781974736577

Ganta Nakami is a grumpy and unfriendly high schooler with few friends but it’s primarily because he’s an insomniac and hardly ever sleeps. This causes him to also fall asleep at school and, while trying to find a good place to nap, he comes across the abandoned astronomy club room. Only it’s not so abandoned when he finds a fellow insomniac, outgoing Isaki Magari. After some forced proximity bonding, they discover that they can get some rest together and become secret friends.

Insomniacs After School, vol. 1 is the beginning of a heartwarming series about two unlikely high schoolers becoming closer as they are plagued by their shared disorder. The story addresses friendship, healing, and the power of dreams while also giving the reader cute banter and lightheartedness. Each character in Insomniacs After School is distinct, not only in their design but also in their personalities, allowing readers from various backgrounds to find a character they resonate with. The magic of the abandoned astronomy tower is captured in detail by Makoto Ojiro, but it is the beautiful renderings of abandoned nighttime streets that really pack an atmospheric and emotional punch.

Those who like stories about teenage friendship and unconventional bonding should read Chion-san of the Cat Temple, also by Makoto Ojiro. For manga readers who like the coming-of-age, finding-yourself vibes, I recommend Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi. Teens who enjoyed the unlikely friendship and emotional themes of the novel Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell may also enjoy this new manga series.

Cheyenne Sons

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: June 6, 2023
Release Date: June 6, 2023
Release Date: June 13, 2023
Release Date: September 12, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Cursed Princess Club, Vol. 1, by LambCat

  • Cursed Princess Club, Vol. 1
  • by LambCat
  • Publisher: Wattpad WEBTOON Studios
  • Publication Date: January 3, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781990259791

Cursed Princess Club is a fun twist on traditional fairy tales. The usual rivalries of palace life do not plague the royal family of the Pastel Kingdom. The princesses and prince, along with their father, King Jack, are so warm, supportive, and loving that Princess Gwendolyn doesn’t realize she is a bit different–with green-tinged skin and a possum munching on her hair–from her beautiful siblings until she overhears the Plaid Kingdom’s youngest prince, Frederick, tell his brothers that she is “very ugly.” This shock puts Gwen on the path to meeting the titular club and all of the cursed princesses (and one prince) who live in the nearby forest.

This webcomic turned graphic novel combines manga-like illustration with quirky, offbeat humor. Misunderstandings of the Shakespearian variety keep the story moving, and the shattered fairy tale tropes amuse throughout. The storytelling is both heartwarming and hilarious. The cursed princesses are endearing and relatable, each with their unique curse, which serves as a clever metaphor for real-life insecurities. The witty dialogue and well-crafted character development keep readers engaged and emotionally invested in the story.

One of the standout elements of this webcomic is its beautiful artwork. LambCat’s illustrations capture the whimsical nature of the fairy tale world while also precisely conveying the characters’ emotions. Color and scenic detail add depth to the narrative and enhance the reading experience.

Cursed Princess Club is more than just a fun twist on classic tales; it celebrates self-acceptance, friendship, and embracing one’s uniqueness. The story’s positive message is delivered with a light-hearted touch, making it suitable for readers of all ages. Teen readers who enjoy stories that play with well-established norms, such as The Witches Throne by Cedric Caballes or ND Stevenson’s Nimona, will appreciate Cursed Princess Club.

Patricia Jimenez

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: February 7, 2023
Release Date: April 25, 2023
Release Date: August 15, 2023
Release Date: September 26, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Blue Box, Vol. 1, by Kouji Miura

  • Blue Box, vol. 1
  • by Kouji Miura
  • VIZ Media
  • Publication Date: November 1, 2022
  • ISBN-13: 9781974734627

Blue Box, vol. 1 is the first volume in a new series written and drawn by Kouji Miura. Taiki is on the school badminton team, and practices in the school gym at the same time as Chinatsu, an upperclassman. Chinatsu is a star on the girls’ basketball team and very popular. When Taiki first sees her, he instantly falls in love. During their days in the gym, the two get to know each other. Unaware of Taiki’s feelings, Chinatsu offers to help him improve at badminton and qualify for nationals. To complicate matters more, Chinatsu’s parents move away, and Taiki’s mother offers to let her stay at their house for the remainder of the school year. Now Taiki has to face his embarrassment and agony of having his sempai and crush living with him!

Blue Box combines the themes of sports, humor, friendship and romance in a new manga series with big teen appeal. The art fits the mold of realistic high school manga, and readers will jump right into the familiar feel. Supporting characters have their own storylines and are used for more than just comic relief. The anxiety and doubts that both Chinatsu and Taiki face about their sports careers mirror what real life teen athletes often go through. Miura manages to balance both Taiki’s crush on Chinatsu and the importance of their respective disciplines. Much of the story focuses on the bond the two main characters create through their love of sports, and how their friendship helps each other become better at them.

Recommend Blue Box to teens who enjoy sports manga such as Blue Lock by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Haikyu! by Haruichi Furudate. Teen readers who like sports combined with romance should also read the Wandance series by Coffee and Cheeky Brat by Miyuki Mitsubachi.

Jacqueline Bush

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: March 14, 2023
Release Date: July 18, 2023
Release Date: August 8, 2023
Release Date: August 29, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Embrace You Size: My Own Body Positvity by hara

  • Embrace Your Size: My Own Body Positivity
  • by hara
  • Publisher: Yen Press
  • Publication Date: November 22, 2022
  • ISBN-13: 9781975347307

Embrace Your Size follows author, hara’s, journey of self-acceptance as she learns more about the body positivity movement. These graphic essays cover a wide range of subjects, all linked to hara’s attempts to build a positive relationship with her body. Topics include: recovery from an eating disorder, a growing interest in fashion, movie reviews, and interviews with other members of the body positivity community. 

The art style is charming, and Hara’s positive depiction of bodies of all sizes is a refreshing change of pace from the traditionally limited range of manga body types. Very little is prescriptive here, with the emphasis on the uniqueness of each person’s version of body positivity giving the book an inclusive and welcoming feel. Difficult topics such as hara’s eating disorder and body image issues are raised, but the tone remains lighthearted and upbeat throughout. 

Readers who enjoy the fictional adventures of plus-sized characters in novels like Amy Spalding’s The Summer of Jordy Perez or Lyla Lee’s I’ll Be the One will find similar discussions of fashion and beauty standards here. Embrace Your Size will also appeal to readers looking for adorably illustrated fat characters, similar to Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle’s Moonstruck. Fans of other autobiographical manga like The Bride Was a Boy or My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness may also be interested in Hara’s emotional journey and commentary on social expectations. 

—Meg Bowie

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: October 18, 2022
Release Date: October 25, 2022
Release Date: November 11, 2022
Release Date: May 16, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

#QP2018 Nominees Round Up: Graphic Novels and Manga

Scorpia by Anthony Horowitz and Antony Johnston
Candlewick Press
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
ISBN: 9780763692575 

Glossy, full color graphics and an Alex who is drawn like an older teen make this fast-paced action-adventure graphic novel an excellent choice for reluctant readers. Continue reading #QP2018 Nominees Round Up: Graphic Novels and Manga

#QP2018 Nominees Round Up: Manga and Graphic Novels

Scooby Apocalypse Vol. 1 by Keith Giffen
DC Comics
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
ISBN: 9781401267902

What if you took the characters from Scooby-Doo, re-imagined them as badasses in the modern day, and pitted them against a mystery where the monsters are real and horrifying? Then you’d get Scooby ApocalypseContinue reading #QP2018 Nominees Round Up: Manga and Graphic Novels

Gaming Anime

The response to the Sports Anime post was so enthusiastic that I am back again to highlight some gaming anime titles! My apologies to fans of the “stuck in a video game world” trope, you will have to wait your turn. These main characters are all into tabletop games! (If you must have a video game anime recommendation, I wrote about Summer Wars last year in my Anime Titles for Book Lovers to watch this Summer post.  

What we have this month is  a series about a haunted strategy board game, a dramatic show about a group of teens who trying to form a competitive memory card team, a slice of life comedy starring a mischievous student who distracts his classmate, and a series focused on trading card game battles.

Gaming is another broad sub-genre. While I attempted to select a range of games and themes, if you feel like I missed a show that this list cannot survive without, feel free to bring it up in the comments!

Hikaru no Go

Hikaru no GoHundreds of years ago Sai Fujiwara flung himself into a river when he was dismissed from his position as the emperor’s Go instructor. Since his death, he has haunted a Go board hoping to someday achieve his dream of playing one “Divine Move.” Hikaru Shindo, the sixth grade boy he is currently haunting, doesn’t seem to mind his spectral hitchhiker. Will the two be able to work together to make Sai Fujiwara’s dream come true?

Hikaru no Go is the least spooky ghost story in the world, mostly because the show is so focused on the gameplay of Go and the interpersonal relationships of the players. While the 23 volume manga series is still available in the United States, the DVDs of the show are out of print. But do not despair!  both the subtitled and dubbed versions of all 75 episodes the show are available to stream (with commercials) on Viz’s website and Hulu. If you run an anime club or a convention you can contact Viz directly on their website using this form to ask for permission to screen the show to your group.

About the Game: Go

A two player strategy board game that you can pick up and play for little to no cost. The goal of Go is to capture the opposing player’s pieces by surrounding them. Learn more at the American Go Association’s website. Continue reading Gaming Anime

Anime for Book Lovers: More in the Manga

Just like any book-to-movie, or comic book-to-movie, adaptation the manga version of an anime will often have tons material that didn’t make it to the screen. Some anime act like an alternate dimension, missing characters and straying wildly from the original plot, others will start off in the same place as the books, and then end up in a radically different spot. Occasionally, when you are very lucky, a manga series will keep going past the last episode of a series. This means that you get all new story lines and character arcs, and is a beautiful thing if you have become attached to the characters (I am looking at YOU Kimi Ni Todoke). The three titles explored below are extremely popular shows that fall in to the last category. Enjoy!

Ouran High School Host ClubOuran High School Host Club

(Comedy/Romance)

  • Manga by Bisco Hatori (18 Volumes) Completed
  • Anime (Season One- 26 Episodes) Completed

Ouran Academy is a private school where students from super rich families kill time by participating in a series of fabulous and extravagant club activities. Allegedly they also attend classes, but little of that shows up on screen. Scholarship student Haruhi breaks one club’s expensive vase while looking for a quiet place to study. Now Haruhi must work for the Host Club to pay back the cost of the item… but what exactly do they do?

Costume changes and shenanigans, romantic and otherwise, abound in this classic comedy anime. It only ran for a single season back in 2012, but the twenty six episodes have lived in anime fans’ hearts forevermore.  The differences between the anime vs. the manga start off fairly mild, with extra scenes sprinkled throughout the first few volumes, but the end of the manga run has tons of new material on all your favorite characters. More Tamaki, more Haruhi, and a whole alternate ending! 

Kimi ni Todoke

Kimi ni Todoke – From Me To You 

(Slice of Life/Romance)

  • Manga by Karuho Shiina (25 Volumes) Ongoing
  • Anime (Season One- 25 Episodes, Season Two- 12 Episodes) Completed

Sawako Kuronuma’s big goal is to finally make friends this school year. This will be tough because in addition to being super awkward she looks just like the ghost from “The Ring!” It is hard to make friends when everyone thinks you can curse them. Then the effortlessly popular and handsome Shota Kazehaya starts paying attention to her. Is he interested in something more? Things start to look up on the friend front after her class’s assigned seating is reshuffled. Will she be able to make friends with the blunt Chizuru Yoshida and the sophisticated Ayane Yano? 

The writing for this High School series is delicate and nuanced. The work is full of funny moments, and Sawako’s new friendships are given as much weight and time as the romantic plot lines. She is a delightful protagonist and getting to see her grow and fall in love is a real treat.  There are two seasons of this series and the anime included almost all of the stories from the Manga up through volume 11. The best part? The manga is still being published! (Volume 25 has a US publication date in Sept 2016) Continue reading Anime for Book Lovers: More in the Manga

Teen Perspective: Digitally Remastered – Comic books for gamers!

If something exists, chances are that somebody is already trying to profit from it. Popular book series starring a teenage girl in a dystopian future? Hollywood is already writin’ up the script! Another Disney movie about a princess? Somebody is already planning a musical!

Video game characters like Super Mario and Pac-Man have become just as popular as the likes of Mickey and Bugs Bunny, so when something is THAT popular, you know that they’re going to go beyond just video games, right? We’re not just talking action figures and posters, but full movies! I can see it now: the greatest actors all over the country, being called together to act out some of time’s most beloved video game stories, with fantastic… um……yeah.

The majority of video game movies fail to stay true to their source material. Forget ’em for now.

So, what other kind of media has proven to be faithful to gaming? Comics! The comic format is very nice for expressing a serious tone, while also allowing for a more relaxed and comedy-based narrative. Practically every big video game franchise from Japan has a Manga series adaptation, and many other American games have gotten the panel-by-panel treatment as well.

For today’s article, I’ll be looking at a few comic books, all of which are based on some of my favorite games to play!comic books for gamers

The first is Mega Man, which is  published by Archie Comics, written by Ian Flynn, with art by Patrick Spaziante. This is the most recent of the 3 comic franchises, as it is the only one that debuted during the 21st Century. The story follows Dr. Thomas Light and Dr. Albert Wily, as they start work on service robots called ‘Robot Masters’. Angered by Light’s fame over his own, Wily corrupts the Robot Masters into becoming war machines. Doctor Light converts one of his own housekeeping robots, ‘Rock’, into a fighting robot in order to stop Wily’s reprogrammed Robot Masters. Continue reading Teen Perspective: Digitally Remastered – Comic books for gamers!