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The 'Awesome' Manga Left Behind

Looking at Kono Manga ga Sugoi! award winners from the past few years



The TLDR


Kono Manga ga Sugoi! (This Manga is Awesome!) is a prestigious manga industry award. The award is voted on by publishing industry professionals, entertainment professionals, and students (their votes carry less weight) and compiled into a male and female ranking. If you see a manga listed here, it may be "worth reading."


The 2023 awards were announced in December 2022, and well...you won't be able to read any of the top 10 manga from the female readers' list right now. Tamon's B-Side has just been licensed by VIZ for fall 2023, and of course, there's hope that a few more could be licensed one day, but today is not that day. This year's disappointing discovery has inspired me to look at past lists, specifically from 2020-2023, to see how many titles have been licensed. Without further ado, let's take a look at the winners.



(Note that bolded and anglicized text means the manga has been licensed. Also, note that titles can be tied. Finally, if the title is licensed, I have noted the Japanese magazine/website the manga was serialized in, the English publisher, and the date the manga first came to market after each title.)



Male Demographic


2023

(List released in 2022)

1. The Summer Hikaru Died by Mokumokuren (serialized on Young Ace Up; licensed by Yen Press, 7/18/2023)

2. Goodbye, Eri by Tatsuki Fujimoto (serialized on Shonen Jump+; licensed by VIZ digital 4/10/2023, print 6/27/2023)

3. Takopi's Original Sin by Taizan 5 (serialized on Shonen Jump+; licensed by MangaPlus, digital 2/24/2022)

4. Akane-banashi by Yūki Suenaga and Takamasa Moue (serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump; licensed by MangaPlus, digital 2/13/2022; VIZ, print 8/8/2023)

5. Gekiko Kamen by Takayuki Yamaguchi

6. Kore Egaite Shine by Minoru Toyoda

7. Super no Ura de Yani Sū Futari by Jinushi

8. One Piece by Eiichiro Oda (serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump; licensed by VIZ, 6/25/2003)

9. You and I Are Polar Opposites by Kōcha Agasawa (serialized on Shonen Jump+; licensed by MangaPlus, digital 6/19/2022)

9. Midori no Uta: Shūshū Gunfū by Gao Yan

11. Seikatsu Hogo Tokku o Deyo. by Kretek Madome

12. Kujima Utaeba Ie Hororo by Akira Konno

12. Nippon Sangoku by Matsuki Ikka

12. Fool Night by Kasumi Yasuda

15. Daemons of the Shadow Realm by Hiromu Arakawa (serialized in Shonen Gangan; licensed by MangaUp 7/25/2022, digital; Square Enix, print 4/25/2023)

16. Sumi Nigori by Takeshi Taka

17. Yōki na Yatsura by Sakumo Okada

18. Nabe ni Dangan wo Ukenagara by Juntarō Aoki and Shin Moriyama

18. Hirayasumi by Keigo Shinzō

20. Golden Kamuy by Satoru Noda (serialized in Weekly Young Jump; licensed by VIZ, 6/20/2017)


8 Titles have been licensed.



2022

(List released in 2021)

1. Look Back by Tatsuki Fujimoto (serialized on Shonen Jump+; licensed by VIZ, 9/20/2022)

2. Chi -Chikyū no Undō ni Tsuite- by Uoto

3. Kaiju No. 8 by Naoya Matsumoto (licensed by MangaPlus, digital 7/22/2020; VIZ, print 12/7/2021)

4. Dandadan by Yukinobu Tatsu (serialized on Shonen Jump+; licensed by MangaPlus, digital 8/23/2021; VIZ, print 10/11/2022)

5. Tokyo Higoro by Taiyo Matsumoto

6. Frieren: Beyond Journey's End by Kanehito Yamada and Tsukasa Abe (serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday; licensed by VIZ, 11/9/2021)

7. Oshi no Ko by Aka Akasaka and Mengo Yokoyari (serialized in Weekly Young Jump; licensed by Yen Press, print 1/17/2023; Mangaplus, digital 4/20/2022)

8. Trillion Game by Riichirou Inagaki and Ryoichi Ikegami

9. Peleliu: Guernica of Paradise by Kazuyuki Takeda and Masao Hiratsuka

10. The Darwin Incident by Shun Umezawa (serialized in Afternoon; licensed by Kodansha, fall 2023)

11. Hyperinflation by Kyu Sumiyoshi

12. Tokyo Revengers by Ken Wakui (serialized in Weekly Shonen Magazine - Kodansha; licensed by Kodansha, digital 10/16/2018; Seven Seas, print 7/26/2022)

13. Nara e by Kai Ohyama

13. Note: Another manga ranked at #13, but the magazine did not post it per the manga author's request.

14. Sayonara Candle by Tо̄ru Seino

16. Korogaru Kyо̄dai by Tsubumi Mori

17. Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama (serialized in Bessatsu Shounen Magazine; licensed by Kodansha, 6/19/2012)

18. Ashita, Watashi wa Dareka no Kanojo by Hinao Wono

19. Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi (serialized in Afternoon; licensed by Kodansha, 10/13/2020)

20. Tsugumi Project by ippatu (serialized in Young Magazine; licensed by Kodansha, spring 2023)


10 titles have been licensed.



2021

(List released in 2020)

1. Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto (serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump; licensed by VIZ, print 10/6/2020; MangaPlus, digital 1/20/2019)

2. Frieren: Beyond Journey's End by Kanehito Yamada, Tsukasa Abe (serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday; licensed by VIZ, 11/9/2021)

3. Kowloon Generic Romance by Jun Mayuzuki (serialized in Weekly Young Jump; licensed by Yen Press, 8/9/2022)

4. Mizu wa Umi ni Mukatte Nagareru by Rettо̄ Tajima

5. Ryūnyo Senki by Daisaku Tsuru

6. Dampier no Oishii Bōken by Tomato Soup

7. Dai Dark by Q Hayashida (serialized in Gessan; licensed by VIZ, 4/27/2021)

8. Ninja to Gokudō by Shinsuke Kondō

9. The Dangers in My Heart by Norio Sakurai (serialized in Manga Cross; licensed by Seven Seas, 7/20/2021)

10. Berlin Uwa no Sora by Tetsu Kayama

11. Oshi no Ko by Aka Akasaka, Mengo Yokoyari (serialized in Weekly Young Jump; licensed by Yen Press, print 1/17/2023; Mangaplus, digital 4/20/2022)

12. A Couple of Cuckoos by Miki Yoshikawa (serialized in Weekly Shounen Magazine; licensed by Kodansha, digital 1/12/2021)

13. Inaka by Naoki Yamamoto

14. Undead Unluck by Yoshifumi Tozuka (serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump; licensed by VIZ, 5/4/2021; MangaPlus, digital 1/19/2020)

15. Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi (serialized in Afternoon; licensed by Kodansha, 10/13/2020)

15. Bōkyō Tarō by Yoshihiro Yamada

17. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba by Koyoharu Gotouge (serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump; licensed by VIZ, 7/3/2018)

17. Teigaku-sei Otto no Kodzukai Banzai Getsugaku 2 Man-sen-en no Kinketsu Life by Kōji Yoshimoto

19. Baku-chan by Masumura17 (Jūshichi Masumura)

20. Tsuma to Boku no Shōkibo na Ikuji by Shigeyuki Fukumitsu


10 titles have been licensed.



2020

(List released in 2019)

1. SPY×FAMILY by Tatsuya Endō (serialized on Shonen Jump+; licensed by VIZ, print 6/2/2020; MangaPlus, digital 3/24/19)

2. Robo Sapiens: Tales of Tomorrow by Toranosuke Shimada (serialized in Morning Two; licensed by Seven Seas, 12/7/2021)

3. The Dangers in My Heart by Norio Sakurai (serialized in Manga Cross; licensed by Seven Seas, 7/20/2021)

4. Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto (serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump; licensed by VIZ, print 10/6/2020; MangaPlus, digital 1/20/2019)

5. Mizu wa Umi ni Mukatte Nagareru by Rettō Tajima

6. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba by Koyoharu Gotouge (serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump; licensed by VIZ, 7/3/2018)

7. King's Ranking by Sōsuke Tōka (serialized on Manga Hack; licensed by BookLive, digital 2022)

7. Skip and Loafer by Misaki Takamatsu (serialized in Afternoon; licensed by Seven Seas, 8/10/2021)

9. Panda Tanteisha by Pump Sawae

10. Yūgai Muzai Gangu by Ura Shino

11. Uncle From Another World by Hotondoshindeiru (serialized in/on Comic Walker & Web Comic Apanta; licensed by Yen Press, 6/8/2021)

12. The Ride-On King by Yasushi Baba (serialized in Shounen Sirius; licensed by Sol Press, only 1 volume was published before the license was revoked; Sol Press is defunct)

13. My Clueless First Friend by Taku Kuwamura (serialized in Gangan Joker; licensed by MangaUp 7/25/2022, digital; Square Enix, print 3/7/2023)

14. The Fable by Katsuhisa Minami (serialized in Young Magazine; licensed by Kodansha, digital 4/12/2022)

14. Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi (serialized in Afternoon; licensed by Kodansha, 10/13/2020)

16. My Dress-Up Darling by Shinichi Fukuda (serialized in Young Gangan; licensed by Square Enix, 4/14/2020)

17. Sweat and Soap by Kintetsu Yamada (serialized in D Morning & Morning; licensed by Kodansha, 2/25/2020)

17. Dr. Stone by Riichirou Inagaki and Boichi (serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump; licensed by VIZ, 9/4/2018)

17. Heterogenia Linguistico by Soruto Seno (serialized on Young Ace Up; licensed by Yen Press, 10/27/2020)

20. Kawaisō ni ne, Genki-kun by Umi Komiya


16 titles have been licensed.


Discounting repeat titles like Demon Slayer, we have a total of 38 manga series licensed. The top 20 manga from the 2020 list has almost been licensed! VIZ and MangaPlus have the lion's share of titles licensed with 16, followed by Kodansha with 8. Yen Press has 5, and Seven Seas has 4. Square Enix and Manga Up have 3, and BookLive and Sol Press have 1 title each.



Female Demographic


2023

(List released in 2022)

1. Tenmaku no Jadūgal: A Witch's Life in Mongol by Tomato Soup

2. Gene Bride by Hitomi Takano

3. Serious Office Worker by Umeko Fuyuno

4. Onna no Ko ga Iru Basho wa by Ebine Yamaji

5. Star Tripper by Sakana Sakatsuki

6. Umi ga Hashiru Endroll by John Tarachine

7. Busu Nante Iwanaide by Araka Toaru

8. Taiyō Yori Mabushii Hoshi by Kazune Kawahara

9. Tamon's B-Side Yuki Shiwasu (serialized in Hana to Yume; licensed by VIZ, Fall 2023)

10. Watashitachi wa Mutsū Renai ga Shitai by Yukari Takinami

11. In the Clear Moonlit Dusk by Mika Yamamori (serialized in Dessert; licensed by Kodansha, digital 7/13/2021, print 11/29/2022)

12. Hanayodan to Issho by Masumura17 (Jūshichi Masumura)

13. Koi Janee Kara by Peko Watanabe

14. My Girlfriend's Child by Mamoru Aoi (serialized in Bessatsu Friend; licensed by Seven Seas, 4/25/2023)

15. Madame-tachi no Roomshare by Koseko Seko

15. Yayakoshii Mikan-tachi by Sumako Kari

17. Though I Am an Inept Villainess: Tale of the Butterfly-Rat Body Swap in the Maiden Court by Ei Ohitsuji (serialized in Comic Zero-Sum; licensed by Seven Seas, 11/8/2022)

18. Fashion!! by Lemon Haruna

18. Mawata no Ori by Ira Ozaki

20. Hatuskoi, Zarari by Zakuro Zaku


4 titles have been licensed.



2022

(List released in 2021)

1. Umi ga Hashiru Endroll by John Tarachine

2. She Loves to Cook, and She Loves to Eat by Sakaomi Yuzaki (serialized in/on Comic It; licensed by Yen Press, 10/18/2022)

3. Ōoku: The Inner Chambers by Fumi Yoshinaga (serialized in Melody; licensed by VIZ, 8/18/2009)

4. In the Clear Moonlit Dusk by Mika Yamamori (serialized in Dessert; licensed by Kodansha, digital 7/13/2021, print 11/29/2022)

5. Onna no Sono no Hoshi by Yama Wayama

6. Blank Space by Kon Kumakura

7. Kageki Shojo!! by Kumiko Saiki (serialized in Melody; licensed by Seven Seas, 7/6/2021)

8. Shiawase wa Tabete Nete Mate by Tori Mizunagi

9. Branch Line by Aoi Ikebe

10. Do Not Say Mystery by Yumi Tamura (serialized in Flowers; licensed by Seven Seas, 5/30/2023)

11. Yuria-sensei no Akai Ito by Kiwa Irie

12. Watashi no Genre ni "Kami" ga Imasu by Tsuzuru Sanada

13. Jitenshaya-san no Takahashi-kun by Arare Matsumushi

14. Sanbyо̄shi no Musume by Melome Machida

14. Majo wo Mamoru. by Maki Ebishi

16. Sexy Tanaka-san by Hinako Ashihara

17. My Stepmother and Stepsisters Aren't Wicked by Otsuji (serialized in Comic Pool; licensed by Seven Seas, 5/2/2023)

17. A Sign of Affection by Suu Morishita (serialized in Dessert; licensed by Kodansha, digital 3/31/2020, print 2/23/2021)

19. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman with translations by Makino Kotoko (not manga; published by Hachette Children’s Group, 2/7/2019)

20. Muteki no Mirai Daisakusen by Fuyuko Kurosaki


7 manga titles have been licensed. (Heartstopper is a graphic novel from the UK, and we definitely have that!)



2021

(List released in 2020)

1. Onna no Sono no Hoshi by Yama Wayama

2. Go Happy Mania by Moyoco Anno

3. Bara wa Shuraba de Umareru ― 70-nendai Shoujo Manga Assistant Funtō-ki by Nami Sasō

4. My Broken Mariko by Waka Hirako (serialized in Comic Bridge; licensed by Yen Press, 11/10/2020)

5. Let's Go Karaoke! by Yama Wayama (serialized in Comic Beam; licensed by Yen Press, 5/24/2022)

6. Do Not Say Mystery by Yumi Tamura (serialized in Flowers; licensed by Seven Seas, 5/30/2023)

6. My Happy Marriage by Rito Kosaka, Akumi Agitogi (serialized on Gangan Online; licensed by Square Enix, print 9/13/2022, digital )

8. Kashikokute Yōki aru Kodomo by Miki Yamamoto

9. My Love Mix-Up!! by Wataru Hinekure, Aruko (serialized in Bessatsu Margaret; licensed by VIZ, 10/5/2021)

9. A Sign of Affection by Suu Morishita (serialized in Dessert; licensed by Kodansha, digital 3/31/2020, print 2/23/2021)

11. Sensō wa Onna no Kao o Shiteinai by Svetlana Alexievich, Keito Koume

11. Munō no Taka by Asami Hanzaki

13. Kemuri to Mitsu by Hiroko Nagakura

14. Even Though We're Adults by Takako Shimura (serialized in Kiss; licensed by Seven Seas, 2/9/2021)

15. Ao no Hana, Utsuwa no Mori by Yuki Kodama

16. 1-nichi 2-kai by Ryo Ikuemi

17. Kieta Mama Tomo by Hiroko Nohara

17. Daily Report About My Witch Senpai by Maka Mochida (serialized in Manga Cross - Princess Comics; licensed by Seven Seas, 1/11/2022)

19. Hajimete no Hito by Fumiko Tanikawa

19. Box of Light by Seiko Erisawa (serialized in Zoukan Flowers; licensed by Seven Seas, 7/12/2022)


9 titles have been licensed.



2020

(List released in 2019)

1. Not Your Idol by Aoi Makino (serialized in Ribon; licensed by VIZ, 5/5/2020)

2. Captivated By You by Yama Wayama (serialized in Comic Beam; licensed by Yen Press, 7/27/2021)

3. Ashita Shinu ni wa by Sumako Kari

4. Do Not Say Mystery by Yumi Tamura (serialized in Flowers; licensed by Seven Seas, 5/30/2023)

5. Shinzō by Akiko Okuda

6. Poe no Ichizoku Unicorn by Moto Hagio

7. Tedare Monra by Shizuka Nakano

8. Hadaka Ikkan! Tsuzui-san by Tsuzui

8. Yuria Sensei no Akai Ito by Kiwa Irie

10. Ikoku Nikki by Tomoko Yamashita

11. Nagi no Oitoma by Misato Konari

12. Daru-chan by Remon Haruna

13. Atarashii Jōshi wa Do Tennen by Dan Ichikawa

13. One Room Angel by Harada (serialized in On Blue; licensed by Futekiya, digital 12/20/2020)

15. A Condition Called Love by Megumi Morino (serialized in Dessert; licensed by Kodansha, digital 3/3/2020, print 1/24/2023)

16. Play It Cool, Guys by Kokone Nata (serialized in/on Gangan Pixiv; licensed by Yen Press, 3/9/2021)

17. Tsubaki-chō Lonely Planet by Mika Yamamori (serialized in Margaret; licensed by Yen Press, 10/4/2022)

18. Kageki Shojo!! by Kumiko Saiki (serialized in Melody; licensed by Seven Seas, 7/6/2021)

18. Namida Nikomi Ai Tsurasa Mashimashi by Nikumanko

18. A White Rose in Bloom by Asumiko Nakamura (serialized in/on Rakuen Le Paradis; licensed by Seven Seas, 1/5/2021)


9 titles have been licensed.


Discounting the repeats such as Do Not Say Mystery and the non-manga Heartstopper, 24 titles have been licensed. Seven Seas leads the pack with the most licenses at 9 followed by Yen Press at 6. Kodansha has 3 titles, and VIZ has 4 titles. Lastly, Square Enix and Futekiya have 1 title a piece.


So in chart form, we're looking at the following:


With the raw data out of the way, it's time to make a few observations, and I have quite a few.



A Few Observations


First off, the point isn't to get everything listed here licensed because 1) it's too much and nigh impossible to get all the manga Japan produces licensed, 2) awards aren't everything, and their direct impact on manga sales in America/the West is dubious. However, in a world where so much manga exists, winning an award or two or three, makes the manga more visible to publishers and manga fans. If anything, knowing the manga won an award might add another selling point for publishers and add another reason why you need to check it out, stat.



Last but not least, 3) not all of these titles would appeal (or be sellable) to an American/Western audience. Having looked up all of the Top 20 list for each year between 2020-2023 via sites like MangaUpdates, Anime-Planet, Wikipedia, etc., there are some titles I'd personally like to forget existed.



The point is to 1) note the differences between the lists (there will be a test later), 2) jot down the manga you're interested in reading and let publishers know you're interested, and 3) don't despair.


Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei/Goodbye, Mr. Despair "I'm in despair!" GIF
Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei

Let's start with the differences. I see two differences to explore.



Big Difference #1

The first big difference is the types of manga that are featured on these lists. The manga on the female reader list doesn't solely come from magazines aimed at a female audience. A lot of entries come from seinen magazines such as Comic Beam (Muteki no Mirai Daisakusen, Namida Nikomi Ai Tsurasa Mashimashi, Tedare Monra, Onna no Ko ga Iru Basho wa, Let's Go Karaoke, and Captivated By You), Morning Two (Koi Janee Kara), Manga Cross (Atarashii Jōshi wa Do Tennen), and Harta (Kemuri to Mitsu). To be fair, Comic Beam has a high percentage of female readers compared to some of Kadokawa's other shounen and seinen magazines, but make no mistake, Comic Beam's readership skews towards men.



As far as actual shoujo and josei magazines go, a lot of award winners come from Feel Young (Branch Line, Ikoku Nikki, Go Happy Mania, Gene Bride, and Yayakoshii Mikan-tachi). Also, quite a few works come from magazines that we don't see a lot of licenses for like Mystery Bonita (Umi ga Hashiru Endroll), Zoukan Flowers (Box of Light), Flowers (Ao no Hana, Utsuwa no Mori, Do Not Say Mystery), Elegance Eve (Nagi no Oitoma) Cocohana (1-nichi 2-kai, Hajimete no Hito), and Anekei Petit Comic (Sexy Tanaka-san, Mawata no Ori). Finally, I don't know what demo Torch falls under, but it's getting straight-up ignored from both the guys and girl's lists. Works include Panda Tanteisha, Jitenshaya-san no Takahashi-kun, Shinzo, and Kashikokute Yuuki Aru Kodomo. The only license we have thus far from Torch magazine is Sazan & Comet Girl by Yuriko Akase. Seven Seas published the 2-volume series as an all-in-one omnibus. So, if you're looking for sci-fi and space stories, check it out.


Sazan & Comet Girl by Yuriko Akase; 2 pages in full color. Man thinking and resting on bench when a girl on motorcyle rolls up and asks if he needs a lift.
Sazan & Comet Girl

Additionally, the top 20 list for female readers contains a lot of LGBTQ+ protagonists and works like One Room Angel, My Love Mix-Up!, She Loves to Cook and She Loves to Eat, A White Rose in Bloom, and Even Though We're Adults. However, the list for male readers contains fewer LGBTQ+ protagonists and works, with horror manga The Summer Hikaru Died being a notable example, and the male readers' list contains mostly manga from shounen and seinen magazines with Ashita, Watashi wa Dareka no Kanojo being a notable exception.


(The Summer Hikaru Died)


Ashita, Watashi wa Dareka no Kanojo by Hinano Wono is an interesting case. First off, the name is either Ashita or Asu depending on where you go. Note, I am following Anime News Network's naming convention for the manga. Setting that tidbit aside, Ashita, Watashi wa Dareka no Kanojo ranked at #18 for male readers on the 2022 list, and the manga ranked at #39 on the Kono Manga ga Sugoi 2023 list for female readers. Additionally, the manga won the "Best Shojo Manga" category of the 68th Shogakukan Manga Awards in 2022. (Note: Shogakukan publishes the magazine this manga is serialized in.) Serialized on Cycomics website and in Ura Sunday magazine since 2019, the romance drama manga has been described by @ShoujoseiWorld as:


A series of interconnected bitter love stories depicting the realities of female college students who earn money by renting themselves out to men as their girlfriends and the men who spend their money on them.
The first volume tells the tale of Yuki, who works part-time as a rental girlfriend, and one of her loyal customers. The second volume is about Yuki's best friend Rina, who lives the sugar baby lifestyle but really just yearns for true love.

The manga received a 12-episode live-action TV series in 2022, and the manga has over 3 million copies in circulation as of March 2022. The series currently has 12 volumes in print and is ending soon. Dubbed "Rent-A-Girlfriend but good" by those reading ahead, it feels like only a matter of time before this manga gets licensed if it does. I hope Ashita, Watashi wa Dareka no Kanojo gets licensed. I'm curious to see what the fuss is about. Plus, it's nice to see more people read and appreciate shoujo manga. (And if it's not technically "shoujo" manga, then doesn't this just make my point even clearer? Especially for Shogakukan which is home to several magazines like Sho-Comi, Ciao, Cheese, Petit Comic, &Flower, etc. aimed at girls and women!? They practically invented "comics made for girls.")


Girls from Ashita, Watashi wa Dareka no Kanojo
Ashita, Watashi wa Dareka no Kanojo

Big Difference #2

Moving on, the next big difference to note is how the male audience is clearly favored over the female audience when it comes to licensing. There are 38 titles for male readers compared to 24 titles for female readers. All of the #1 spots in the male reader category have been licensed (so Spy x Family, Chainsaw Man, Look Back, and The Summer Hikaru Died) compared to only just one for the female reader category (Not Your Idol). VIZ favoring the Shonen Jump brand shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but it does paint an even more depressing picture of the company's recent social media gaffe where the "intern" called "shojo" a "genre." It's forever immortalized by this Comic Book Resources article (slow news day, I guess). Don't worry. VIZ apologized right after the article was published.


Tweet from VIZMedia says: "Sorry we were focused on encouraging a reader. Our community team commits to being more thoughtful in the words we choose. We decided to pull down the previous post. #wefiredtheintern"
The apology

Additionally, the rates at which the titles have been licensed are drastically different. The titles featured in the male demographic tend to be licensed and released quicker thanks to digital publishing. Sites like Square Enix's MangaUp app, Shueisha's MangaPlus app, and the VIZ's Shonen Jump app have licensed titles several months to a few years before their print release. Note that MangaPlus and the Shonen Jump app are very popular digital subscription services in the U.S., and it's no wonder. MangaPlus is 100% free, and VIZ's Shonen Jump app is only $3/mo. However, Do Not Say Mystery and most shoujo titles do not have that same level of exposure and luxury.


Do Not Say Mystery manga cover in Japanese
Do Not Say Mystery

Do Not Say Mystery has been a Top 20 staple of the Kono Manga ga Sugoi list since 2019, yet it didn't get licensed until recently, and this is especially egregious as the manga has won multiple major awards since its debut. Major awards include the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2022 and the Shogakukan Manga Award in the General category in 2022. Additionally, the series had a hit TV drama, and finally, the series has over 18 million copies in circulation with 12 volumes. The fact that this series has no anime announcement remains a mystery. However, the manga will finally be published in English by Seven Seas. Barring no delays, the first volume will hit shelves in May 2023. All's well that ends well, I guess.


Besides comparing the rates at which titles get licensed, the types of manga featured on these lists versus what gets picked up for licensing needs to be examined, especially when it comes to female readers. Setting aside this award list, it feels like publishers only pick up the (mostly) female-targeted romance and slap the shoujo label on it and call it a day probably because they do. [citation needed*]


(*In all seriousness, this topic is best explored in an essay for another day.)


However, the Kono Manga ga Sugoi female reader lists feature a lot of diverse manga. Some manga is about the lives of women like Ashita Shinu ni wa, Branch Line, Sanbyoushi no Musume, and Shiawase wa Tabete Nete Mate. Others are biographical. I'm not particularly a fan of nonfiction, but if you enjoy stories like Blank Canvas by Akiko Higashimura, then you may enjoy Bara wa Shuraba de Umareru ― 70-nendai Shoujo Manga Assistant Funtō-ki, which is Nami Sasō's life as a manga assistant in the 70s and working with shoujo greats.


Historical manga include works like Majo wo Mamoru, which is a fictional tale about witches, witchcraft, and Johann Weyer, a doctor and pioneer in psychiatry. A historical manga that I'm personally interested in is called Tenmaku no Jadūgal: A Witch's Life in Mongol by Tomato Soup. It was the #1 ranked manga for female readers in 2023, and you can learn more about it via Saffron Apple Pie's Manga Recs.


Horror manga includes the 1-volume Watashi no Genre ni "Kami" ga Imasu, which ran in Ciao Deluxe Horror. If you're looking for stories featuring middle-aged or older female protagonists, you may be interested in stories like Umi ga Hashiru Endroll, Hajimete no Hito, and Madame-tachi no Roomshare. If you're looking for sports stories or you have read Children of Mu-Town (published by Glacier Bay Books), you may be interested in Jūshichi Masumura's follow-up work Hanayodan to Issho, which is about a master shogi player. (I certainly am!)


Mystery fans may be interested in Kieta Mama Tomo, a one-volume tome about a supposedly happy housewife and mother who goes missing. Sci-fi fans may enjoy the space opera Star Tripper or like seeing the struggles of a 24-year-old alien holding down a job in Daru-chan. Finally, there are still a lot of interesting, objectively good, and award-winning romance manga that publishers can choose to license over series like My Secret Affection and Romantic Killer.


My Secret Affection was serialized in Dessert magazine, the same magazine as A Sign of Affection and In the Clear Moonlit Dusk and other manga currently trapped in Kodansha's digital vault. As for Romantic Killer... yes, it got an anime, but if it didn't, would it still be licensed? Wait, scratch that. If Romantic Killer wasn't serialized on Shonen Jump+ and got an anime, would it still be licensed? Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollon) had an anime and was a past #1 Kono Manga ga Sugoi winner in 2009 but still remains unlicensed. Kids on the Slope was also serialized in Flowers, the same magazine as Do Not Say Mystery. So, food for thought.



And not to ignore the guys—In addition to checking out the manga you're missing under the female readers' category, you can also check out the manga that's left behind under the male readers' category. Quite a bit of it is from magazines that we don't see a lot of in English like Big Comic Spirits (Hirayasumi, Chi -Chikyū no Undō ni Tsuite-), Big Comic Original Zoukan (Tokyo Higoro), Big Comic Superior (Sumi Nigori, Fool Night, Gekiko Kamen, Trillion Game), and Gessan (Kujima Utaeba Ie Hororo, Kore Egaite Shine). If you're waiting for a Trillion Game license, note that we haven't had a new Ryoichi Ikegami license in decades; so, good luck with that. Also, Fool Night is in the same magazine, just saying...


Well, that's depressing.


Goodbye Mr. Despair "I'm in Despair!" GIF
Oh wait, I already made this joke.

So, what can we do?

Don't despair too much. Some of these series will get published. It's just a matter of when. Educated guesses include Onna no Sono no Hoshi by Yama Wayama. Onna no Sono no Hoshi has an upcoming anime, and Wayama's other works Let's Go Karaoke! and Captivated by You have been published in English already. While not a guarantee that the latest manga will come over, Onna no Sono no Hoshi has a better chance than something completely unknown or new.


While we wait for these licenses (optimistic or delusional, you decide), we can support the manga already out there. Buying books isn't the only way to show your support. You can utilize subscription services and your local library. Remember, you can request books as well as check out books physically and digitally. Online and offline, recommend the manga to people who will appreciate it, especially if it's from a magazine or genre you want more of in English. Request the manga you really want from publishers by filling out the surveys and contact forms on their websites. Finally, If all else fails, scream on social media or something. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯



Conclusion

Are publishers localizing and translating the best manga from Japan in English? Well...from just this really small and cherry-picked sample, I'd have to go with yes and no. Yes, they are picking up the best manga when it's aimed at guys or can be easily sold to them and readers who share the same tastes, but no, not so much for the girls and people that share the same tastes. While awards aren't everything and not everything can be sold to an American/Western and English-speaking audience, it's frustrating that there is such a huge disparity between what gets licensed and when especially at a time when manga is more popular than ever.


Anime News Network article; title says "Manga's Growth in Popularity is Here to Stay, Industry Leaders Predict"
Anime News Network article

I'd like to read more non-romantic manga. Specifically, I'd like to read more mystery manga in print. I'd like to read more works from magazines we don't see too many licenses from in English like Feel Young, Cheese, Harta, Mystery Bonita, Petit Comic, Anekei Petit Comic, &Flower, and Flowers. Just to name a few. I'd like to be surprised when it comes to licensing announcements, and I don't want to be old and gray before I finally get to read a fraction, of a fraction of the best, most popular, and award-winning manga that just happened to be serialized in magazines aimed at girls and women in English.


Neighborhood Story by Ai Yazawa was serialized from 1995-1998 in Ribon magazine. Nana is still extremely popular, and the series charted on The New York Times Best-Seller list back in the day, btw. Paradise Kiss is also popular, just a little less so than Nana.



Blade of the Moon Princess was serialized in Jump SQ from 2010-2011. Both of these works will be released in fall 2023. Square that circle.



But hey, it can't be all that bad, right? I'm sure we don't have that many #1 Kono Manga ga Sugoi winners in English any—


highlighted kono manga ga sugoi winners from 2006 to 2023
Oh...

Well, I'll just end the ran-I mean, essay here. What do you think? What do you want to read? Do any of these unlicensed works interest you? Let me know via Twitter @ThatMangaHunter.

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