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ennaliMember Since 29 Mar 2014
Offline Last Active May 21 2018 10:42 AM
Here's some recommendations to read if you're bored, or new to the manga/ manhwa/ online grey world of copyright issues (which you can read all about on Inside Scanlation). Although if you're here in the first place means you're probably not new to stuff like that (given you've overcome the barriers of Mangafox, Mangareader & co., and that you're so bored you've clicked on my profile page from either my comments or my uploads).
Next, I'll update this list when I have the time. If you have any recommendations for me, or in case I've forgotten great stories (oh just remembered one), you can drop me a message/ comment. I'll update when I'm free (oops, am reminded that I haven't uploaded the latest chapter of *ahem* in a long, long time) but if I don't include it after some time, it probably means I've read it, but still didn't like it. Hey, to each his own! And if you think my interpretation of the stories are wrong, you can also comment/ pm me. But
I'm a Lit student after all used to be a Lit student, now graduated, so you can place your trust in me heh. And if you're ever running out of new manga to read, you can search for the author's other works (duh!), or stuff by the same scanlators because they might share similar interests with you. As a last resort you can also type random stuff into the search box e.g. a lot of mangas I've read have the word 'dragon' in their title, so sometimes I just type it in and land my way to some unknown gem.
Also, if you feel that the stuff I write is a little lacking and you still can't get what the story's about, I try to give summaries of the plots when the summaries on BakaUpdates/ provided by scanlators just don't tell you anything about the story. So if there isn't any summary of the plot, just a small commentary, it's probably because I know the summary elsewhere does a much better job describing the story than me.
And, finally! Yup, these are reviews, but they're recommendations before they are reviews. Which means that they're chosen (or not) based on some undefinable highlight, or redeeming quality despite having cliche/ boring parts. If they were (truly) reviews based on the plot, character development, tension ... they would be on BakaUpdates, not here. I evaluate them on the overall feeling I get when I read them, because before I'm a critic waiting to be satisfied, I'm just an excited manga reader like everyone out there, and there are lots of manga that fall short in many areas but give me a feeling of joy, or contentment, or sadness, or transience, or ... you get the idea. And these mangas will get recommended here. The opposite also applies, i.e. a manga that has lots of plot devices, good character portrayal, how realistic events are etc but just doesn't leave the reader with a feeling won't get recommended. But that's rarely the case because if a piece of work satisfies a very picky reader it will usually wow the pants off most people too.
Tl;dr - List is ranked in order of merit.
List of ALL TIME FAV
Team Medical Dragon
I truly appreciated this manga because of the truth it portrays about a sector that receives more negative spotlight by the day, especially when we hear about cases like the NHS sponsoring cosmetic procedures but refusing financial support for cancer patients. Yet a lot of people out there don't know, or don't want to know, of how the medicine networks in different countries all around the world are facing the same problems of corruption and politics at the deepest level. I have so much more to say about this, but I suggest you read it for yourself. In fact, if you can read Chinese, I suggest you read the raws on DM5 because the scanlation team isn't very hardcore. There is a quote in the last chapter, that explains the resolution between the conflict of 2 characters, and I feel it has no conceivable counterpart in English, but it stood out to me so greatly. If you can't read Chinese, well sorry. But it's always been my favorite manga of all time.
Likewise, manga relies heavily on the visual element and specific use of words in a limited space to tell a story, but in the end it is still a blank slate for the author to express whatever symbolism or meaning in the most beautiful ways he/ she can think of. In the case of Oyasumi Punpun, the art was depressingly realistic, and despite the darkness ahead the reader still cannot give up on the titular character Punpun, whose story of growing up is so, so realistic you can never look down on the shadow of a broken childhood again (unlike many cases where overcoming your past is seen as a victory and then conveniently kicked under a bush when the trope is sucked dry), or how we will always be treading a thin line between good and bad, and euphoria and despair.
I can't bring myself to encourage you wholeheartedly to read it, because even though I really want more people to read and appreciate this (I can never understand why so many manga readers think flat, overused tropes are better than the power of a story that grips at the deepest parts of your heart), I really think that many people may end up giving up on it because they aren't used to this type of manga. Still, no matter what person you are, please give this manga a chance because even if you end up giving up reading it halfway, it'll definitely bring you a perspective you've never seen before.
Shin Angyo Onshi
Ran to Haiiro no Sekai
This is a fantasy manga that's quite optimistic in a world that has potential to fall into ruin and despair and all vile things, but it doesn't. Sometimes the crazy false hope in manga gets to me, like how the MC cries a river of tears when someone dies but then gets over it the next day. And then cue the compulsory swimsuit scene. But for Kanata Kara, which is actually a sci-fi story (although I think it's much more magic than anything scientific, because the female MC goes to an alternate world where many scientific inventions don't exist and stuff), you can tell the mangaka wholeheartedly believes that love, hope and all things good will trump evil in the end.
Some manga are crappy because the 'love redeems all' trope is so fake, overused and downright disgusting. This isn't. Somehow the idea is so pure and natural to the core of the story. Also, I generally dislike the idea of the MC travelling back in time or through space (especially to a more undeveloped place, where you have to survive in a place with zero technological advancement etc). So the fact that I like Kanata Kara actually means its really good. Although the element of fantasy did help a little, heh.
Actually I put off reading this for a long time, even though it got recommended on BakaUpdates many times for me. The picture on BakaUpdates at that time didn't do it justice (and the current one too), and coupled with the fact that I didn't like the idea of a female MC relying on some magical powerful guy to protect her all the time (hey, that's the impression I got when reading the synopsis), I picked it up thinking I'll drop it at the next cheesy scene. But I didn't, and it was surprisingly good. Just like how the best things in life come to you without you having to chase for them.
Song of the Long March
P.S. In case you're offended by what I mean as I disagree with fat acceptance, I mean the divide between what we say in theory and what we observe in real life. Just like how I understand how Communism works in theory but not in real life. I understand that the meaning of fat acceptance means accepting each and everyone of us for our body sizes, and especially so for women because the societal pressure to be skinny is, and has been for a long time, defined by MEN. Women choosing to be what body size they want to is a sign that we define who we are, and our beauty and self-worth is not due to society's narrow view of the thin beauty ideal. I am who I am, is the voice of the feminist. Which I am 100% for.
BUT. But health does indeed correlate to weight. And in Asia, where I am from, where being healthy(ish thin) is the ideal for both men and women, it is indeed observable that people are less likely to die from obesity (I'm sorry if that offends you). Loving yourself means loving yourself for every body size you're in, and for any state of health you're in. I must re-emphasise this. Even when I was unhealthy and not exercising and eating unhealthy stuff day in day out I still loved myself (An overweight BMI in my country for women is 24.5, set by the health authorities). And don't give me crap about how, if I 'love myself' I want a better, healthier me - NO, because I love myself and my lifestyle habits, and don't judge me for them. The only reason why I wanted to change was because my youth is limited and I wanted to do something special that I couldn't when I was old. I wanted to climb mountains, to snorkel in the Great Pacific Reef, to live and love in my prime years. And I didn't want to be a rude person occupying 0.5 of the airplane seat of the person next to me. I didn't do it for my 'beauty' or my health (because you can live a long healthy life like the Japanese eating tofu and healthy shit but I personally wouldn't be happy) but for the experience. And so ... back to Asia, and fat acceptance - even though Asia is guilty of another form of terrible feminism altogether where (this is very much relevant in China) women do indeed exploit the argument of equality and yet demand extra privileges as a female e.g. men to pay for dinners all the time - Asians are as a whole healthier, and less fat.
OMG I just realised I wrote a bunch of stuff completely irrelevant to the manhua (cries) I'm sorry if you had to read through all that just because you wanted to see if this story was deserving of a read. Which I've probably spoilt it for you. But please give it a try, and then come back and re-read what I've wrote.
P.P.S. But of course to fully appreciate said MC's qualities, her world does not give her extra privileges as a female. Or some fake condescending shit that she can't do something as a female, and then she subverts them all. Because she dresses as a man (heh the cat's out of the bag) so you can see for yourself how fair life is, for once.
Rin (Harold Sakuishi)
And the passion of the MC isn't some motivation for revenge/ tragic past/ you get the idea, but it's riddled with self-doubt (without my manga writing skills, what would I be), tons of dream-crushing (MC's sister gets autoimmune disease passed down through family, I suspect it's muscular dystrophy) and the little happiness we all seek in a cup of soju at the end of a tiring day. This stands out because it takes lots of conventional shounen tropes and makes them so fitting of the storyline that you don't care if the mangaka actually uses cliché events to push the plot along.
Innocent (Sakamoto Shinichi)
Anyway it's a historical manga based off a real French dude (actually one of France's last executioners), and from other reviews it seems Author-san has gotten most facts right. But just in case you're a hardcore historian and get offended easily, you have been warned.
Anyway this is a better-than-average shounen manga. It is quite trope-ish, but then still quite good. The horror tag doesn't qualify for much, partly because I was reading Pupa concurrently with this and the latter was so much more horror-worthy.
Already in the first five chapters we see her asking male MC if he is going to kill the 'evil woman' aka what he calls his mom, and even prepares a sting so she will kill her for him. I must add that the male MC's mom isn't evil, just a normal nagging mom, and HE is the one who has problems that already manifest in the way he interacts with and treats others, although he won't actually go about doing bad stuff. But, this manga is sure as hell going down a dark road because a child with powers should foremost be educated and male MC is the worst person to ever be a parent. It is creepy at times to see a human head on a grotesque insect body, but overall I'm glad that many mangas nowadays are taking on unconventional routes like this with realistic characters in intriguing settings.
Holding high hopes for this one.
Tower of God
Basically you get an MC that's definitely gonna gain some power through the story. But it defies all cliches and tropes and honours the badge of 'fantasy'. Of course there's a female foil to the shounen lead. But she's not one of those well endowed, pretty faced, or the 'stubborn, optimistic' type of fanservice. She's evil, and she knows it. Even the MC knows it (although it took 78 chapters for him to find out, heh). There's killing, plotting, and people trying to survive in the coloured pictures of magic and humanity. It's like a more fantasy, yet more real version of this (which is good, but I have unfortunately fallen out of love with). And it's good to be evil. I mean, only evil people get what they want. Either that or you're just plain lucky to get an evil person on your side.
You really must try this. Read it all in a day. And then re-read it. I mean, it's one of the top 10 in all manga sites you find. And the author is a genius king of trolls. Also, did I mention how fun it is to read the ToG forums? The theory page is swarming with ideas. And there's always the occasional poll such as who is the 'one' for the MC (trust me, it's not a harem, although the idea is played for laughs, again, author is a genius king of trolls).
Also, if you've been living under a (Korean) rock, and didn't know about the whole saga about Naver and their webtoons, basically Naver has decided to cut down on not-so-legal scanlations of webtoons online - Naver being the top search engine in Korea, also the top webtoon producer on the web (of which ToG is definitely in their Top 2), managed to get ToG and a slew of other webtoons they owned down from this site and now you can read it here.
The author (recognise something?) has said that she deliberately wrote Kubera with 'no villains, only victims' where everyone is fighting for something they want to achieve. So instead of flat out evil people that need to be killed, everyone is a character with motives, with desires, with strength, of which were shaped by their circumstances. There is no justification why the antagonist is the antagonist, i.e. no childhood poverty or racial discrimination, and no one is the bad guy if you stand from their perspective. Actually, you don't even need to bother standing from their perspective. Just read the webtoon.
The only thing I didn't like was the art. When I first read it the storyline was weird, and the art very cartoonish and off-putting. But I tried again months later, when I was bored, and it turned out to get more interesting over time. You know how you always see people as 'physically attractive' or not when first meeting them? Over time, the 'nice-looking' ones appear more normal, and you think they're nothing special. Same goes for those that you define as 'ugly', the more you interact with them the more you see their inner merits and eventually looks don't matter. Just the case with Kubera, which appeared so deceptively cartoonish but eventually you get used to it and even overlook it because of the plot. Also, the foreshadowing is great. Stuff that appears 100 chapters earlier are greatly relevant later.
Note: You can't read it here on Batoto, because as with all other Naver titles it has been forced on the guillotine. But you can read the English translations as overlays on the Korean raws. Hmmm, that sounds hard to understand. Never mind, instructions all here.
The thing about most manga that start off with a great hook, setting etc is that when the reader gets used to the world it creates after the first 10 chapters, the wow factor is diminished. It's bound to happen. What's good about Noblesse, then, is that it took around 50 + chapters for the wow factor to go away. By then, I'd already bookmarked the webtoon, and was attracted to it because I was personally interested in the characters.
Also, you can't read it here on Batoto because of dear Monsieur Naver and his anti-piracy whip, but at least Mr Naver gave us an up to date option.
Abide in the Wind
The thing about AinW is that there's no way a happy ending can occur. Just like Kubera, it's been hinted/ told to us countless times that something very bad is going to happen to the female lead, and that the dragon guy who's your perfect possessive stalker will go berserk because of it. True enough, the prince catches up to them and the female lead is put in some sleep-death mode, and the dragon does go somewhat crazy, inflicting lots of physical damage by the end of Season 1.
Also, since all Naver Korean titles have been ordered to be taken down here at Batoto, you can read it at LoneManga, which was created because of AinW and now scanlates a few other webtoons (which you can check out, but I happen not to like very much).
The Children's Teacher. Mr Kwon
Or maybe it's just me. Never mind, read and judge for yourself.
But anyway you get it, the focus is on romance, so don't go in expecting a solid historical manhwa based in Korea. Actually I think even Goong had more references to Korean history than it.
But anyway one fine day I was bored and it got recommended again, so I took the plunge and I really think it's quite a good read. Basically it's royalty politics, but legit royalty politics, not like Twelve Nights (the manhwa in case people think I'm talking about Viola x Orsino - that's Twelfth Night, btw), and I have to give the author credit for putting in so much effort to flesh out an entire world, like Kubera (Does anyone find the maps authors draw really fascinating? I used to ignore them, like the ones in LotR, until I started analysing them and connecting the story's timeline to them). So despite the 1980s art, I felt it was a rather fulfilling read.
Note: Actually, not so fulfilling, because the manhwa is still not completed. It apparently got axed/ author stopped indefinitely for some medical reason until Naver got it reproduced 5 years later as a webtoon online manhwa (not webtoon cos no colour) so you can read it chapter by chapter weekly instead of per volume (which was what the English scanlators did). I remember when I first saw it on Naver it was languishing at the bottom of the webtoon list on its publishing day (Wednesday, iirc) and I still clicked it to see what it was about (I didn't know about Princess back then, and I obviously couldn't understand Hanja well enough to translate the title). Once I saw it had no colour I closed the tab immediately -___-
Land of Silver Rain
List of Okayish Readings (not subscribed, I read when I see the updates on the Batoto homepage, but they're much better quality than much of the crappish stuff)
Shingeki no Kyojin
Mahou Tsukai no Yome
Edit: I just found out it was apparently shortlisted for some manga award, dunno if it won though. Yay ^^
Tenma no Ketsuzoku
Yume no Shizuku, Ougon no Torikago
P.S. I know Red River was also based in Anatolia which is basically Turkey before the Ottomans, but it's entirely fiction. Yes I know I love historical fiction but nothing compares to good ol' history ya know?
Sakamoto-kun desu ga
Ane no Kekkon
Umi no Cradle
And I've always wondered what happened if authors actually made an effort to put REAL people into the most imaginative scenarios they've created, like what if you actually put a real 17 year old teen into ToG? Instead of the 'I start off late and appear to have uncultivated talent but I put in lots of effort and power up cos I just wanna fight for my friends' MC, or the 'Lol you can always count on me imma save the day' blue haired, maybe blue eyed, genius (on another note I used to find Koon from ToG and Asha from Kubera similar, but not anymore - talk about character analysis for Kubera!), you get a person who has flaws and insecurities (shounen should really take a leaf out of shoujo manga's book of heartwrenching and tear-inducing plot techniques). You get someone who isn't afraid to show his true feelings (to the reader, at least. Don't want to? Then pull something off like Tokyo Ghoul. I love you, Sui Ishida.) and someone who actually recognises his bad decisions and works to redeem himself or justifies in his mind that you know what, it's all right to be evil cos human nature. You know, human nature. I'm looking at you, Shamo.
Oops that was a little too long. But what I wanted to say was, this manga gives off that feeling! That feeling of a normal functional human being in a story other authors would have relied on stereotypes to pull off - it gives me hope that this may be one of my favourite mangas because I can relate to any of the characters, in spite of how different our circumstances may be. But there's only 3 chapters, and there might be (just might be!) an inclination towards a trifle bit too sentimental characters. Well, let's wait and see if this moves up the ranks.
Muhyo and Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation
Tokyo Crazy Paradise
Even the male MC has a life! Although Wiki-san puts him as being 'intelligent, cynical, manipulative and in many respects very Machiavellian' but of course having 'a crush on (female MC) since elementary school' i.e. basic cunning-but-loving male MC, he actually has a legit back story that's not there for the purpose of explaining why he turned out the way he is i.e. bad childhood, and he's able to value what's important to him and take actions because he knows what he wants, even though it worsens his relationship with female MC (and causes fan disservice) and not in the typical shoujo way of 'I love female MC so much, OHH it pains me SOOO that I have to do something for my Yakuza group including give up my one-true-only love OHH ... and then still chooses love over career and responsibilities'. It's surprisingly realistic in this aspect, in that the mangaka values her characters as individuals and not there as foils to the female MC. This is a little in conflict with the unrealistic bits pertaining to plot, but I can see the mangaka's potential, like a diamond that needs polishing.
P.S. Same author as Skip Beat, which a lot of people like. I used to enjoy it too but again it's too draggy and illogical sometimes and I cannot get the mangaka's sense of humor. And it's a little more off-putting than TCP so nope not recommending it.
Fukigen na Mononokean
Soredemo, Sekai wa Utsukushii
I know this list is long enough, but it could be a lot, lot longer because I've practically read almost everything I've been recommended and dug out for myself on random manga sprees. And almost all of the popular shoujo has been demolished by me (yes, a lot of them are cliche and I personally prefer great works but these things don't take much energy to read and they give you a happy sugar rush at the end - although I know it's unrealistic and all...). So anyway, since I have a tendency to ramble on and on, what I meant to say was I know shoujo very well, like, uhhh, very well.
And this author, Suzuki Julietta, writes stuff that are simple and predictive but I found happiness that shines through her manga, a little (only a little!) reminding me of Kanata Kara (not of the same level though, sorry). Like, I actually found myself grinning ear to ear at the end of the story, and I genuinely felt happy that the characters all got happy endings?! And I hardly do that unless I really am absorbed into a story. The storyline is common and all, go check Wikipedia if you want to know, but this is a good story, for happiness. I repeat, for happiness, not for plot. But I didn't get an aftertaste of 'lol, boring generic shoujo' at the end
even though technically that's what it was so do go for it, if you don't mind shoujo.
Cheese in the Trap
You know how there's always a mandatory 'excursion trip' or 'swimming pool trip' in Jap romance shoujo? And how we know that while such events are possible in reality, somehow the tropes just put us off in the manga? Well, CitT keeps the good bits and not the bad ones.
Truthfully, it ended up here because I'm a sucker for magical, fantasy stuff in the end. I think it's a very subjective thing. But given that it's very hard to accurately portray real life, university level romance in the first place, I think it's a job well done.
The author is very touchy about scanlations, cause of the viewing count on Naver and stuff (which, if you frequently read webtoons, you should be familiar about). So you can't read scanlations on Batoto. The scanlation team, OddSquad, requires you to download a plugin to translate it when you go to Naver itself. Really clever idea.
Story of Someone we Know
NO IT IS NOT.
As of now the scanlation team hasn't reached there yet, but the story is surprisingly realistic. It's about 3 female friends and their romance + work + random happenings in life (actually it's more focused on the romance), and later on you see adultery, jealousy, selfishness, ... and the whole spectrum of negative human emotions, all in the happiness that is so fragile and fleeting. Rarely does the light-heartedness get in the way of the plot, but it makes you sad, and happy, that there's always an optimistic view on things, no matter how bad they are.
Edit: As of now the story has completed, and the ending is sorta downer because conflicts don't really get resolved but kicked under a bush. But I don't really want to change my previous review because the front half really did seem promising.
It contains historical (not much focus though), romance (not much focus though), fantasy (quite some focus here), some fighting, some plotting, some bildungsroman-MC-growth, some ... anyway it focuses on a weak lil boy-king who is chosen by some bell spirit which means he gets power amongst other heads-of-state, and usually he gets Nobel (no bell, geddit? Arrgh why am I so lame) so the power is concentrated amongst others who don't like him, like the main antagonist queen. And then it erupts into some mystery-adventure shit.
Quite a worthy read.
Ciel: The Last Autumn Story
In any case, Ciel is a Korean manhwa, and that longass text up there was to tell you that Ciel isn't a normal 'shoujo' story, so don't go in with any misconceptions and be prepared to enjoy
The fantasy setting was great initially,but somehow I lost interest because it gradually got predictable. A lot of people like it though, so you can try if you want. Also, because the scanlation sea is stormy and tumultous, you can only read it on Mangacow, not Batoto.
Pandemonium - Majutsushi no Mura
Girls of the Wilds
Basically the MC is your ostracised, unlucky, optimistic guy who discovers his special powers (but he did get it in a very unusual way, which I liked) and I always love the part where MCs in stories go badass because of these powers. That bit was great. However the storyline began to include more battles (which are good, but Crepuscule isn't about battles in the first place, and the author isn't very good at drawing battle scenes I must say) that were always one-on-one, and dragged on one scene for a few chapters. Still, you should try it. It's interesting.
The Pale Horse
List of Stuff I'm Planning to Read ... Someday
I'm currently on Fairy Tail. When I'm done with that I'm going to do One Piece. Actually I read all about Monkey D Luffy and *cough* long before Natsu & co, but ... just no motivation (yet), I guess.
Area no Kishi
P.S. I seem to have written it as 'Area D' previously, sorry for the confusion. Will write something about Area D soon - which is drawn by the same artist as Shin Angyo Onshi!!! Though not same author but never mind
Kuroko no Basket
God of High School
List of Stuff I've Deliberately Given up on (not that they're bad, they deserve much recognition for great story plot etc, but just not my cup of tea)
Detective Conan/ Case Closed
List of Stuff PLAIN DISAPPOINTING
Gou - Himetachi no Sengoku
And where is character development? Gou is touted to be brave (okay I get it sometimes, but mostly she can't stand up for what she believes in? I know in the end she has to bow down to external pressures but you're not showing her thought processes and inner conflicts ...), free-spirited (where izzzzzzzzzzzzzit, tell me, other than her continuously rejecting her one-true-love lol) and how has she grown into her responsibilities not just as a woman in that era, but as a princess, as the shogun's wife, as a daughter-in-law who resists the pain of her son taken away from her - all those labels that she has to live up to?
And one very great potential was the relationship between the sisters - what about familial bonds, what about consciously choosing one side over the other? What about regret? Don't tell me the real Gou never experienced these? And all the manga shows is our dear Gou worrying needlessly over her sister's angry letter, and then her sister decides to commit suicide via burning in the castle (could also have shown a parallel between their mother's death and her eldest sister's death, but didn't! ) and then Gou cries. And then she decides to look forward and live happily O.O
ARRGH I CANNOT. The eventual breaking of sibling ties is a very delicate and tragically beautiful thing, in my opinion, mirroring the Song sisters of China, Anne and Mary Boleyn, or basically most royal families over time. But ... well ... *sighs* whatever. For a manga whose titular character led one of the most colourful lives of the Sengoku warring period, I feel really, really let down. Maybe the author should stick to fantasy fiction as she's done so far, that will be better.
P.S. I know this sounds so bitchy on my part. But what I feel is, if you're not going to put in effort, then just don't do it. I guess I could have just ignored this manga, just as I've ignored countless others lacking in some way, but the author just had to write a sucky historical manga - please respect history, not just superficially by adhering to the timeline and actual events, but portray the characters as though they were really living out their lives in the story, that they were living, breathing people whose lives deserve as much respect and understanding as any other human today. And I hate to say this, but if you're writing about historical figures from your own culture, shouldn't you be proud of your own history? So show some respect, please.
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