Manifesting some manga
In my previous post, Manga Impossible, I talked about how to make your most wanted English licenses a reality. Now, I want to discuss the stuff I'm performing a ritual dance to obtain. I have split up my most wanted list into three categories: Print/Wide Distribution, Re-Releases, and First-Time Print/Digital.
Without further ado, let's get it started.
As quiet as it's kept, there's a boatload of manga to sift through and read now, and if you stick to what's only in print, you miss out on some interesting series. Some of the most interesting series I've read and reviewed or have become my favorites are digital-only. Digital opens up more options for discovering, reading, and enjoying manga. Digital copies are cheaper than physical books as most digital books are half the cover price of print books. Digital books are impervious to damage and are super convenient as I can take them anywhere without worry.
Additionally, the series publishers once claim was too niche, too old, or too "risky" to publish, as pointed out in this AnimeNewsNetwork Answerman post from 2018, can find a new audience thanks to digital. Digital has removed some risks and barriers, and it has become a testing ground of sorts for publishers like Kodansha who still vaguely promise to print books if the digital versions sold well.
In any case, for every series that I have no problems picking up digitally as seen from my growing collection, there are a few series that I wish were published in print or at least were sold as e-books outside of the subscription service it's tied to. I hate that more and more of the stuff that I want to read are getting locked behind subscription services. I'll spare the rant for another day, but I'm not looking forward to buying coins/points or jumping through hoops to figure out how to read my manga (and increasingly manhua, manwha, and other graphic novels/webtoons). In addition to subscription services, give me an e-book or print book or hell, both, and let me make my own choice in how I want to read. The TBR list of series locked exclusively behind subscription services grows every year. So, here is a small list of digital manga (and not manga) that I'd like to see in print and/or get a wider digital distribution.
Akiko Higashimura is one of my favorite josei mangaka. Her print works include Tokyo Tarareba Girls (my favorite by her), Princess Jellyfish, and her coming-of-age autobiography Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey. I love her series Tokyo Tarareba Girls and Princess Jellyfish for being fun and bittersweet. Plus they're stories about adults dealing with problems in life and love. Her art is beautiful, and I love how she infuses each story with fashion. If you like Sex in the City, definitely check out her romcoms. In addition to her rip-roaring romcoms, she has created a few series and works historical and mystery series that I am interested in reading and that I'll get to in my last category, but first let's turn to the three romcom works that are licensed digitally.
Tokyo Tarareba Girls Returns
Tokyo Tarareba Girls Returns serves as an epilogue to the Tokyo Tarareba Girls story, and Kodansha released it digital-only, for reasons. While not necessary reading, Tokyo Tarareba Girls Returns does give you more time with the OG girls. The sequel series is about a whole new set of what-if girls. While I have this digitally via my trusty Kindle, I'd like to see it come to print. It's only one volume and would make any completionist and fan who collected the story in print happy. Check out the manga via Kodansha's site here.
A Fake Affair
A Fake Affair is a romcom published on WEBTOON. WEBTOON describes the series:
After searching and failing to find a husband for 3 years, Shoko Hama is ready to give up. Tired from work and marriage-less future prospects, she quits her job and travels on a solo trip to Korea. On the plane ride there, Shoko meets the young and attractive Jobanni Park, but accidentally tells him… she’s married? Now caught in her own web of lies, Shoko is about to have the wildest time of her life!
The first 5 chapters and prologue are free to read on WEBTOON without an account. You'll need to make a (free) account to read the rest. You can read free "episodes" everyday per the website so it's not a huge monetary barrier that's keeping me from reading this series, at least. The series is complete at 70 chapters (8 volumes). As of this post, I still have only read the first 5 chapters, so almost a volume's worth of manga, but I am loving what I see so far. A Fake Affair shares a lot of themes, character traits, and gags with Tokyo Tarareba Girls, and I'd love to read more...off WEBTOON, and maybe with the number of views, subscribers, and ratings the series garnered, somebody will pick this up for wider distribution. Check out the series for yourself here.
Do You Remember Me?
Like A Fake Affair, Do You Remember Me? is a full-color manga formatted for phone/tablet scrolling. In this case, the series has been exclusively tied to Tapas since July 2022 so the number of views, subscribers, and likes will only climb higher from here! Tapas describes the story:
Growing up in a rural town, Lee Jihyun had dreamed of becoming a fashion columnist. Now at 30, she finds herself working for a celebrity gossip website with a bulldog clip in her hair. A rumored relationship concerning her favorite star, Haneul, and an observation from a colleague causes her to reminisce about her childhood crush, Jimin. Is Haneul really the boy she once knew? To confirm her suspicions she contacts her hometown friend, Taein, not knowing that he harbors a crush of his own.
The series is 8 volumes long and still ongoing in Japan. I'm not sure why they use the Korean names here, but whatever, I want to read it! Just not on Tapas. Check it out here.
So, I have a Monkey Paw curse when it comes to Akiko Higashimura. I have to really, really be careful about my general wish of wanting to see her work get licensed. I want to see it licensed for print and wide digital distribution.
I'm a budding manwha reader so I'm not super hip to all of the trends, genres, and lingo. However, I found a few series that I have fallen in love with and wish they receive a wider release.
Little Rabbit and the Big Bad Leopard by Mogin, Yasik, and Sadam
Little Rabbit and the Big Bad Leopard is a cute shifter romance manwha that I hope receives a wider release. Tapas describes the story:
Vivi is a... wererabbit?! As a creature that’s supposed to transform into a human, Vivi is a failure, demonized as cursed and sent off to her doom. Luckily, her demise is cut short as Ahin of the Black Leopard Clan saves her. But with every threat and command this temperamental heir tosses at Vivi, she’s questioning her safety (and sanity). Surrounded by carnivores and their strong pheromones, she'll try to survive the chaos while stuck in her rabbit form. Will she figure out how to transform and tap into the power within her cute, furry self?
This is an episodic, slice-of-life story where Vivi learns how to handle her powers as well as fall in love with the enemy. The illustrations are gorgeous. The story is still ongoing at 76 chapters. Check it out here.
Who Made Me A Princess? by Plutus and Spoon
Who Made Me A Princess is a fantasy story about a woman being reborn as a princess to a cold-hearted father. As she grows up, she changes her fate to avoid dying or worse. This is a novel turned manwha. I love the crafty heroine and the rapport she builds with her father. I love the lore and the growing conflict between the heroine, her father, and the rest of the royal court. If you're looking for a father/daughter story with some drama and comedy or a fantasy about royalty, check out Who Made Me A Princess. The manwha is complete at 125 chapters on Tappytoon, and the series is still being released on Tapas. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this manwha will get a print release.
Who's Your Daddy? by Anko, Gyungta, and JangRyang
Who's Your Daddy is a boys-love (BL) mystery romance drama following Louis, a captain of the 2nd Guard, as he solves two mysteries: one—which royal did he sleep with and become impregnated by, and two— who is the serial killer terrorizing the town? This is an mpreg story. The rules are simple. In this world, only male members of the royal family can impregnate anyone. This is a manwha where the serial killer plot is just window dressing to the hot romance brewing between Louis and a member of the royal family, and it shouldn't surprise anyone who the baby daddy is. (Hint: take a good look at the cover.) I really hope Seven Seas (or anyone really) picks this up for physical distribution. The manwha is short and complete overseas at 47 chapters, and Lehzin US has released about half of the series. Check out this really spicy BL here.
I'm not super into re-releases these days as there's just so much new manga to read, but nostalgia is a hell of a drug. Some manga is completely out-of-print; Others are getting there. I would kill for a "Collector's Edition" or just a basic-ass omnibus for the following series.
Banana Fish by Akimi Yoshida
Banana Fish is one of the few series filed under VIZ's Shojo Beat imprint that has zero romance in it. At heart, it's a hardboiled mystery thriller set in NYC in the 80s. Shojo Beat describes the series:
Nature made Ash Lynx beautiful; nurture made him a cold ruthless killer. A runaway brought up as the adopted heir and sex toy of “Papa” Dino Golzine, Ash, now at the rebellious age of seventeen, forsakes the kingdom held out by the devil who raised him. But the hideous secret that drove Ash's older brother mad in Vietnam has suddenly fallen into Papa's insatiably ambitious hands--and it's exactly the wrong time for Eiji Okamura, a pure-hearted young photographer from Japan, to make Ash Lynx's acquaintance...
Epic in scope, and one of the best-selling shojo titles of all time in Japan, Akimi Yoshida put an electric shock into the genre and gained a huge crossover audience through Banana Fish's stripped-down, non-stop style.
The series deals with all sorts of unsavory topics and tropes, and I had the pleasure of attending a great, informative fan panel at Ohayocon 2020 (before the world ended) where the speaker discussed literary and cultural references packed within the series. Got to see other fans irl too, not like the enthusiasm online has tapered any post-anime. (We filled that room!) Full disclosure—I only completed the anime (yes, legally). I have yet to read the entire manga. I had read the first volume a few times before giving up because pre-anime the books were scarce, going out-of-print. That changed post-anime.
Post anime, which aired on Amazon Prime in 2018, demand for the manga went up, and VIZ obliged new fans by printing copies. Today, the series is not 100% out-of-print, just out-of-stock, and I have to ask why. Is it just not popular enough to garner a new edition? (I would love for it to have the VIZ Signature treatment!) Also, why is the anime still locked in Prime Prison? The only legal way to watch Banana Fish is still via Prime, and that's a damn shame. It makes my blood boil. I'd love to have the anime on my shelf too!
One Pound Gospel by Rumiko Takahashi
VIZ has been re-releasing Rumiko Takhashi's older works in Collector's Edition omnibus complete with French flaps, color pages, and textured covers; so it only feels like a matter of time before I get to hold this series in my hands again and for good. VIZ describes the story:
Times are tough at Mukaida's Gym. Though a promising novice with a surprise win in his debut bout, Kosaku has since adopted a steady regimen of extremely unhealthy eating habits--enough to make his coach ready to permanently throw in the towel. Sister Angela hopes her teachings will help Kosaku see the error of his misguided ways. But will Kosaku's burgeoning feelings for the young nun undermine his ability to concentrate on training, fighting and binge eating?
In short, One Pound Gospel is a slice-of-life sports romcom featuring a hopeless boxer and a stern nun. The series is only four volumes long, and it's one of Takahashi's older series. It's not my absolute favorite nor my least favorite, but I adore most things Rumiko Takahashi, and a nice Collector's Edition of One Pound Gospel would look nice on my shelf next to Mermaid Saga and Maison Ikkoku, but more importantly, it would be fun to read the series again. The series is practically OOP. Check it out here.
Rumic World Trilogy and Rumic Theater short stories by Rumiko Takahashi
Okay, okay. Last Rumiko Takahashi entry on the list, scout's honor.
So, once upon a time, VIZ printed Rumiko Takhashi's collection of stories, under Rumic World and Rumic Theater, as floppies before combining them into physical manga volumes. The floppies and manga volumes are severely out-of-print and imperfect. For example, the stories had flipped artwork, meaning you read them L-R instead of R-L. However, the stories are hilarious. You can see the archetypes of her most beloved stories and the characters in them.
For example, "Fire Tripper" is credited with inspiring Inuyasha, and I'm pretty sure Mr. Yotsuya, from Maison Ikkoku, works for the Japanese CIA thanks to the short story "Wasted Minds." There are five books in total, and they are Rumic World Trilogy (3 books), Rumic Theater: One or Double, and Rumic Theater. I'm only missing the first volume of Rumic World Trilogy, but I'd gladly give up these old ass books for a shiny new re-release. Until then, we can enjoy Came the Mirror and Other Tales, a fantastic horror and mystery-filled short stories collection.
You can get a sense of what you're missing out on by reading this Anime News Network article from 2014.
Last, but not least, I have a list of manga that's never been licensed in English. So, I've broken down my entries into two categories: mangaka and individual series.
As I discussed in an earlier post, I read manga by the mangaka. It's one of the tricks I use to always have a backlog of stuff to read. I'd like to see more from my favorite mangaka—old and new.
So, this is one of my fantasy football league licenses. As of this post, only Butterflies, Flowers has been licensed and fully released in print/digital. I discovered this series at 19, and many moons later, it still remains my favorite VIZ Shojo Beat license. However, I can understand why no publisher would want to touch her works with a 10-foot pole. Her works are...juvenile. If you enjoy raunchy sex romcoms with some dank (for lack of a better word) humor in them, I would suggest reading her works. I can't really recommend her to everyone as...her works contain lots of sex, sexual harassment as humor, perverted characters, and more things that make you go "oof." Definitely, big content warning stuff. In spite of this, I found her stuff hilarious. Plus, she's my birthday twin so I have no choice but to stan.
I'd love to see any of her works come across the ocean. I'm not super picky as all of her stuff is genuine gold. If I must be specific, my #1 ask is Darling wa Namamono ni Tsuki (married slice-of-life romcom) followed by Ningyo Ouji (short story collection). Additionally, I'd love to see Anata to Senya Ichiya (office romcom), Aisuru Hito (love triangle romcom), and Mephistopheles wa Dare? (romcom between a jilted woman and a priest). I hope Seven Seas' Steamship picks up one of her works. If anyone picks up her works for print, consider this blog over because I'd have nothing more that I'd want as bad as this.
Gaku Kuze is the mangaka behind the dark comedy turned anime Life Lessons With Uramichi Oniisan. Besides Uramichi Oniisan, Gaku Kuze has two serialized works that I'd like to read. The first is Niramekko, a coming-of-age story about a comedian, and the second is Torimania, a fantasy comedy about a girl studying abroad in a world where winged humans live. If both series are as hilarious as Uramichi Oniisan, then I want to definitely read them. Simple as that.
I adore the messy romcom that was Hotaru's Way, and I really hope Kodansha will license the sequel series Hotaru no Hikari SP and Hotaru no Hikari Baby. Both series are complete in Japan at 6 volumes. I wouldn't mind if they're digital-only. I just want them now. Additionally, I want to try some of Hiura's other works like Saint Love Survivors, a romcom about 30-somethings navigating love and relationships. I also wouldn't mind reading her latest series Saionji-san wa Kaji wo Shina. Both series are being published by Kodansha so they'll probably be digital-only like Hotaru's Way, and I'll be fine with that.
Lasly, Akiko Higashimura has a lot of series that haven't been licensed yet, and I'd like to see more of her works licensed in print and digital. Besides her romcoms like Tokyo Tarareba Girls Season 2, I'd like to see the mystery food manga Bishoku Tantei Akechi Gorou and the historical drama Yukibana no Tora get licensed.
We're in the home stretch. This category can be summed up as "I think it sounds neat." It's just a list of manga that sounds like something I'd enjoy reading and maybe you would too!
Akagari - The Red Rat in Hollywood by Osamu Yamamoto
Serialized in Big Comic Original between 2017 and 2021, The Red Rat in Hollywood is a 10-volume historical psychological drama about the U.S. film industry during the McCarthy era. I love the glitz, glamour, and scandal of old Hollywood, and I love old Hollywood films so I think I'll enjoy this series. I'm hoping VIZ will add this series to its Signature imprint or Seven Seas will pick it up as a 2-in-1 omnibus.
Colette wa Shinu Koto ni Shita by Alto Yukimura
I'll join the choir in wanting a print/digital release of "Colette Decides to Die." If you've been on Twitter (and possibly other platforms), you'd probably seen people discuss this series and with good reason. Colette Decides to Die is a 20-volume series following an overworked young doctor who jumps into a well, intending to die, but instead ends up in Hell where she meets the sickly Hades. She becomes Hades' doctor, and romance ensues. I love stories about fairytales and mythology so I think I'll appreciate reading this series and its ongoing sequel. Plus the art is cute and so are the main characters.
Ookami Heika no Hanayome by Mato Kauta
Ookami Heika no Hanayome is a 19-volume historical romance series following a girl named Yuurin who seeks higher pay via work in the royal palace. Instead of becoming a maid or palace attendant, Yuurin accepts the job of being the fake bride to the ruthless and heartless "wolf king." The story has Saiunkoko Monogatari vibes so I'm very interested in this story.
Madame Petit by Shigeru Takao
Serialized in Bessatsu Hana to Yume from 2012 to 2017, Madame Petit is a historical romance drama with some adventure and mystery thrown in. The story follows a 16-year-old girl named Mariko who is to be betrothed to an older man she admires. While traveling aboard the Orient Express on her honeymoon, her husband is found dead after the first night on board. All of this takes place in the 1920s and we see the characters travel through places like Turkey and France. The series is complete at 11 volumes. While Madame Petit is an old series, I have hope that we could see this in English one day thanks to the recent Usotoki Rhetoric release. Usotoki Rhetoric was serialized in the same magazine at the same time as Madame Petit... so fingers crossed!
Veil by Kotteri
Serialized in Comic Ruelle since 2019, Veil follows the relationship between a blind woman and a police officer who met by chance one day. It's a full-color comic, and the stylish illustrations remind me of Ai Yazawa's work or as one lucky French reader put it, "leafing through a Vogue magazine."
And there you have it! That's my most wanted English releases. So, what about you? What are your most wanted English releases? Do you share any in common with me? Let me know below or on Twitter @ThatMangaHunter.