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The 15 essential works to discover the manga

The 15 essential works to discover the manga

The Japan Expo, the high mass of manga, opens its doors this Thursday in the Paris region. The opportunity to convert to manga, starting with a few key titles.

Have you always dreamed of diving into manga, but you don’t know where to start? You want to avoid the behemoths of the Japanese edition, the One Piece and its 101 volumes or the naruto in 72 volumes, and the abundance of the offer scares you a little?

Do not panic, here is a selection of fifteen titles to start discovering the manga and to discover all the subtleties. Polar, comedy, SF, horror, drama, contemplative narrative… There is something for everyone and for all ages.

The fifteen books selected, all considered by specialists in the genre as manga must-haves, are easily found in French bookstores and are mostly short stories, in just a few volumes: ideal for neophytes. Follow the leader!

• Look Back (2021)

manga "Look Back"
The manga “Look Back” © Kazé

This one-shot of incredible melancholy tells the friendship between two young manga authors, who will be separated by a tragedy. In just 140 pages, Tatsuki Fujimoto demonstrates an impressive narrative and graphic mastery and delivers a deep reflection on the importance of Art in our lives.

Look Back, Tatsuki Fujimoto, Kazé, 140 pages, 7.29 euros. One shot.

• Blue (1995)

"Blue" by Kiriko Nananan
“Blue” by Kiriko Nananan © Casterman

Masterpiece of intimate manga, Blue by Kiriko Nananan tells the love story between two high school girls. An essential reading, where the author makes maximum use of the possibilities offered by the 9th Art to stage the unsaid. Blue is one of those stories whose reading can change lives.

Blue, Kiriko Nananan, Casterman, 240 pages, 10 euros. One shot.

• NoNoBâ (1977)

Cover of "NoNoBâ"
Cover of “NonNonBâ” © Cornélius

Partly autobiographical story, NoNoBâ depicts the encounter between an old lady who adores legends and the young Shigeru Mizuki, whose imagination will be increased tenfold by these stories populated by watches and ghosts from Japanese folklore. A universal story that helps to understand Japanese culture.

NonNonBâ, Shigeru Mizuki, Cornelius, 420 pages, 33.50 euros. One shot.

manga "In a corner of this world"
The manga “In a corner of this world” © Kana

In a corner of this world by Fumiyo Kouno tells the daily life of the young Suzu Urano during the Second World War between the management of her house, the supply and her family life. So many ordeals that risk making him lose his natural joie de vivre. An unforgettable work, where tragedy and sweetness coexist.

In a corner of this world, Fumiyo Kôno, Kana, 224 pages, 15.50 euros. 2 volumes available.

• My Father’s Diary (1994)

"My Father's Diary" by Jiro Taniguchi
“My Father’s Diary” by Jiro Taniguchi © Casterman

Remained in the shadow of The Walking Man, Distant Quarter or The Lonely Gourmet, My Father’s Diary is yet one of Jiro Taniguchi’s masterpieces. In this partly autobiographical work, a man rediscovers, after the death of his father, this man whom he has always seen as absent and cold.

My father’s diary, Jiro Taniguhi, 280 pages, 20 euros. One shot.

"mermaid forest" by Rumiko Takahashi
“Mermaid Forest” by Rumiko Takahashi © Glénat

Rare foray into the horror of Rumiko Takahashi, mermaid forest is a good introduction to the world of the Grand Prix d’Angoulême, whose favorite themes are eternal youth and gender. This re-reading of the myth of the witches impresses with its dark and pessimistic tone told with a soft and energetic graphic design.

Mermaid Forest, Rumiko Takahashi, Glénat, 400 pages, 14.95 euros. 2 volumes.

•When We Lived Together (1972)

"When we saw together" by Kazuo Kamimura
“When we saw together” by Kazuo Kamimura © Kana

Kazuo Kamimura (1940-1986) tells in this moving work the story of a couple in full liberation of morals in the 1970s. In this often contemplative story, he tells day after day the ups and downs of a romantic relationship which is gradually disintegrating under the pressure of society.

When we lived together, Kazuo Kamimura, Kana, 704 pages, 18.50 euros. 3 volumes available.

• Banana Fish (1985-1994)

"banana fish"
Banana Fish © Panini

The thriller banana fish has just been republished and retranslated by Panini. The perfect opportunity to discover the work of designer Akimi Yoshida, who follows the adventures of Ash, a small gang leader who investigates Banana Fish, a drug with amnesic effects. A reference to Japanese thrillers.

Banana Fish, Akimi Yoshida, Panini Manga, 378 pages, 16 euros. 9 volumes available (complete series in 10 volumes).

• Parasite (1988-1994)

manga covers "Parasite"
Covers of the manga “Parasite” © Glénat

In Parasite, a horror classic by Hitoshi Iwaaki, strange parasites take over humanity. His only hope is Shinichi, a young high school student spared by his parasite, which lodged in his right arm. A breathtaking scenario and surprising visual ideas.

Parasite, Hitoshi Iwaaki, Glénat, 274 pages, 10.75 euros. 8 volumes available.

"The Rose of Versailles"
“The Rose of Versailles” © Kana

This classic, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, was adapted in 1979 by Jacques Demy for cinema and as an anime on television (under the title of lady oscar, in the 1980s), is one of the best gateways to discovering manga. We follow, during the French Revolution, the story of Oscar François de Jarjayes, a transvestite woman, member of the Royal Guard.

The Rose of Versailles, Riyoko Ikeda, Kana, 800 pages, 19.99 euros. 2 volumes.

• Ping Pong (1996-1997)

Ping Pong by Taiyou Matsumoto
Ping Pong by Taiyou Matsumoto © Delcourt/Tonkam

We could recommend all the works of Taiyou Matsumoto as each of his stories is a lesson in drawing and wisdom. With table tennis, the mangaka reaches a peak. It tells the story of the rivalry against the backdrop of table tennis between two childhood friends with very different characters and destinies. A powerful and poetic story about failure.

Ping Pong, Taiyou Matsumoto, Dekcourt/Tonkam, 544 pages. €29.99. 2 volumes available.

manga "My Broken Mariko"
The manga “My Broken Mariko” © Ki-oon

Shattered after her best friend Mariko’s suicide, Tomoyo refuses to let her abusive father take care of her funeral. She then steals his ashes and flees to the sea to pay him a last respect. A moving story about the powerlessness of the living in the face of death, whose enraged tone leaves no reader indifferent.

My Broken Mariko, Waka Hirako, Ki-oon, 194 pages, 9.95 euros. One shot.

manga covers "good night punpun"
The covers of the manga “Goodnight Punpun” © Kana

Considered one of the best titles of its author, good night punpun recounts over several years the life of a young boy, Punpun (represented as a bird), confronted with the horrors of adolescence, from first love to conflicting relations with his family. A story that is both confusing and touching, carried by a sublime design.

Goodnight Punpun, Inio Asano, Kana, 208 pages, 7.55 euros. 13 volumes available.

"Aria" by Kozue Amano
“Aria” by Kozue Amano © Ki-oon

Flagship title of the “iyashikei”, Japanese literary movement based on the well-being of the reader, Aria follows the wanderings of an Earth woman in the Martian colony of Neo-Venice, a magnificent city built on the waters where she learns to become a professional gondola rider. A funny and relaxing read.

Aria The Masterpiece, Kozue Amano, Ki-oon, 375 pages, 15 euros. 7 volumes available.

"Pluto" by Naoki Urasawa
“Pluto” by Naoki Urasawa © Kana

Master of the thriller, Naoki Urasawa proposes in Pluto a political reinterpretation of Astro Boy, the famous vigilante robot imagined by Osamu Tezuka. In line with the great SF novelists (Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick), Urasawa delivers a fascinating reflection on the place of robotics in society. One of his best series.

Pluto, Naoki Urasawa, Kana, 258 pages, 7.55 euros. 8 volumes available.

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