Coal For Your Manga Stocking

When the call went out for a Great Manga Gift Guide, Ed Sizemore, the raison d’être for the entire movement in the first place, asked for bloggers to give out a few lumps of “manga coal,” essentially awarding some Razzie style awards to manga that we’ve read over the past year. I, unfortunately, did not comply with this request, mostly because, well, I was so exhausted. Gift guides are hard work!

(Speaking of gift guides, I did this last year before it got popular. Check out my 2008 Christmas Gift Guide here!)

So, now that the Gift Guide has been published, it’s time to get to the coal. Consider this post a guide of manga you shouldn’t buy your loved ones for the holidays. Or yourself, either.

Again, my opinions, and any release year, not just this one.

For the Bad Girls

Magic Touch
I’ve chronicled my distaste for this manga in a recent MangaVillage review, but this series is beyond bad. The premise is awful, the characters are stagnant, and even the good plot lines are fumbled. The only redeeming quality is the art, and some of the pacing, but for the most part, this is a series to avoid at all costs. Maybe if no-one buys it, Viz will cancel it and spend their capital on better licenses.

Another stinker, this one for its pandering characters and confusing plot lines. Apparently, this was based off of an anime, so fans of the show apparently get what happens in the first volume. I sure as hell didn’t. What I did get was that this was not a series for me, and moreover, not a series worth reading.

I disliked Kieli enough to give it a failing grade, and the reason is pretty obvious – it tries to be cute and cuddly, but then gets all Sixth Sense on your ass. Normally, this would be one of those moments that I’d claim the series was brilliant, but unlike any of the works of Housui Yamazaki, this manga has terrible writing.

For the Bad Boys

While I haven’t reviewed it yet, my review of the first 5 volumes is coming down the pipeline soon, and let me tell you, I was surely unimpressed. The jokes are stale, unimaginative past the first volume, and the plot is non-existent. I know that Gag-manga are a bit scatter-brained at times, but wow, this one really needs some amphetamines so it can sit still for half a second. I hear that it eventually becomes a battle manga, which might be interesting, but I’m really just not a fan of the beginning of the series.

I, Otaku: Struggle in Akihabara
Otaku comedy/slife-of-life can be great reading. Genshiken is a prime example of a great otaku comedy – it has identifiable characters, good jokes, and an interesting storyline. I, Otaku has none of that. One of my first negative reviews, this book still holds a place in my heart. A sour, rotten place (probably that same part where waking up on the wrong side of the bed comes from).

Naruto: Second Season
Okay, I realize I’m about to take some severe flak here, but seriously? When did Naruto get so emo? What’s with the giant frog transformations and all that other crap? I preferred the first season tremendously, and I think the series, just like Bleach, has drifted down into mediocrity in the latest volumes. Hate away, Naruto fan-boys.

Got a series you absolutely despised? Let me know in the comments!

EDIT: It was actually David Welsh that sent out the call,and Erica Friedman who spearheaded the project. Without those two, this wouldn’t have been possible. Thanks to Ed for clearing things up for me.


5 thoughts on “Coal For Your Manga Stocking

  1. I think Naruto suffers from general-issue shounen “completely loses its mind and goes off on some weird tangent” syndrome. Dragonball Z would be the most famous example I can think of, where the comic transitioned from wacky and occasionally dramatic misadventure with a wide and colorful cast of characters to a prolonged one-on-one-with-occasional-interruptions fight between Goku and the current bad guy. The thing is, DBZ, at least over here, is way more popular than its previous incarnations, so clearly it hit some kind of cord, and consciously or not many shounen manga in the Dragonball vein take a violent left turn at some point.

    This usually results in me losing interest, seeing as how most go from adventure and varied locations and goals into drawn-out tournament-style arcs where nothing of import happens outside of characters beating the hell out of each other. To quote the ever-divisive Yahtzee, fighting is just one component of the storytelling toolbox, and dropping all the rest in favor of myopic indulgence in one element is… kind of dumb. In Naruto’s case, it seems to have kept “teen brooding” and “seriously, what the hell is going on,” to its detriment.

    To date I think the only long-running shounen manga that somehow has resisted a drop in quality in its second season/incarnation/whatever has been Battle Angel Alita, perhaps because the author’s tremendous imagination and artistic talent turned what would normally be a game-breaking tangent into something really fun while still retaining those moments of sorrow and pathos that made the first great. (Can you tell I’m a fanboy?) Your mileage may vary for the solar-system spanning adventures of a philosophical cyborg literally beating the brains out of her enemies.

  2. 07-Ghost is a manga first, but the anime did a better job of untangling the plot and doing more character development. It’s one of the few instances where I like the anime better than the manga.

  3. Pingback: Wishful thinking « MangaBlog

  4. David Welsh put out the clarion call & Erica Friedman spearheaded the movement. I can’t take credit for their leadership. I was just a loyal foot soldier.

    Great list. I will have lumps of coal on my list next year. So much awfulness out there. I may have to send some to random strangers.

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