Aria by Kozue Amano

ah, nostalgia... Aria is one of the very first mangas i ever read (if you're curious, my very first manga was Peach Fuzz lmao). it's an extremely comfy slice-of-life series that takes place on a terraformed Mars of the future, where water covers about 90% of the planet's surface. Akari and her friends are training to become gondoliers, but she makes sure that they all take the time to soak in the beautiful Neo-Venetian landscape

Tip: if you want to read the whole series, you need to start with the two volumes of Aqua. it's not some separate prequel series or something, they're the actual first two published volumes of Aria

Bloom Into You by Nakatani Nio

BREAKING NEWS: These Bitches Gay!!

while Bloom Into You is a relatively typical yuri manga (it's two high school girls falling in love), i really enjoy the depth of the characters and how the focal relationship develops over time. and Yuu is a character i personally really appreciate--she struggles with her long-standing inability to develop romantic feelings for others, frustrated by how easy falling in love is for other people. i can't think of any other romantic story i've seen that has a character like that, so it makes this story very refreshing for me

Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi

reading this manga is just me constantly nodding and going "he just like me fr"

it feels weirdly indulgent to read a comic that's focused on the Journey and Struggles of Being An Artist, but by god experiencing Yatora's sudden intense interest in creating art and his resulting triumphs, widened artistic perspectives, and Intense Self-Doubt feels like he's reaching thru the pages and punching me in the gut. too much of this shit is RELATABLE!!!!! creating art is such a fulfilling experience, but the desire to improve your craft can really weigh you down if you're not careful

im very curious what reading this is like for non-artists, bc so much of this story feels so familiar to me

Delicious in Dungeon by Ryoko Kui

didn't expect the wombo combo of Cooking Manga and D&D Dungeon Crawling to be such a potent elixir but guess what!! it's got a great cast of charming and goofy characters, mouth-watering monster-based recipes, and some REALLY good solid art. the core concept of "these idiots need to get thru this dungeon but they don't have money to buy food" is executed to such a fun extent, and the story's kinda funny bc at first it feels like it's mostly just gonna focus on the cooking aspect, but then these goons keep stumbling into more and more plot

can't emphasize enough how good the art is, both the people and monsters are drawn with such lively expert draftsmanship

The Depth of the Sky by Maruko Kohinata & Mina Sakurai

a short and sweet one volume manga about an incarcerated woman who's training to become a hairdresser

thankfully it's a story that's fairly grounded and thoughtful towards its characters, opting not to sensationalize the setting but, instead, provide some gentle character development for everyone who steps into this salon

i love the old lady so much, wishing nothing but the best for her 😭🙏

Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida

imagine a world of magic where everyone is capable of brutal violence but ALSO: everyone is some unique brand of dumbass. that's exactly what makes Dorohedoro so appealing to me, that Tastey, Delicious dichotomy between "wow that was preddy violent" and "haha love this idiot :)". i also really like how this story handles its world building, where you'll be introduced to some wacky zany new thing and you just gotta sit back and be like "maybe the story will explain this eventually"

i do enjoy the chaotic scribbly quality of the art, altho sometimes it gets REAL hard to tell what the hell is going on in a panel. Q Hayashida please use more gray tones im begging you

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

now, im about to present a pretty wild take here but................. i think Fullmetal Alchemist is good

i had multiple people telling me for years that this story is pretty dang good, so when i finally got around to it i Finally Understood (i actually watched the OG anime first, but we don't need to talk about that mess lmao). it's got a finely interwoven plot that lays down its pieces carefully and methodically, making the build up to the final arc very satisfying. it explores some heavy topics with nuance thru its stellar cast of characters, plus any story that has a main theme of Fuck The Military will always have me like 👀

i am the head member of the Armstrong Siblings Fanclub

The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún by Nagabe

god i love the art in this series 😩 it's got a lovely storybook feel to it that really complements the story's Superb Vibes, utilizing tons stark black and white contrast for some really striking compositions. and i love the characters! love when a story pulls off a good cute child/guardian dynamic, Shiva is perhaps The Most Child Of All Time

however, i can't tell if i like the ending or not?? i think it's bc like, the last leg of the story shakes things up a bit but also leaves some aspects of the story vague, so i'll eventually have to reread the story to get a better sense of what the mangaka's intentions were (and whether i think they were successful)

Ikoku Nikki by Tomoko Yamashita

one teenager who lost her parents in a car accident + one aunt who had a rocky relationship with her niece's late mother = delicious josei pain

i always get so excited when i find a character drama where the characters actually feel real and nuanced and everyone's lives intertwine organically. Asa and Makio find themselves living together after that horrific car accident, but they're about as polar opposite as you can get; one's a sociable high schooler with an endearing level of naive bluntness, while the other's a 35-year-old novelist who is much more reserved. together, they navigate their complicated, messy feelings towards the deaths of Asa's parents in a very genuine and raw way

Land of the Lustrous by Haruko Ichikawa

only series im listing in both my manga and anime favs bc hot damn!! this is one of my Favs y'all!!!
aesthetically, Land of the Lustrous is utterly captivating for me--the compositions are consistently striking, utilizing bold black fills to frame graceful figures in the midst of both flashy combat and crushing agony. and lemme tell you, these sentient rock people never get a break babey!! i always love a story that's not afraid to stick a knife in my back and twist it over and over and over. also: love how Phos's character development is expressed in a very physical way. go off miserable frankenstein rock

i have some gripes about how the story is paced in later parts, but overall i adore this series

Look Back by Tatsuki Fujimoto

i am in fact a Chainsaw Man Enjoyer, and i think that series is extremely fun, but Fujimoto has been blowing me away with his short comics. this one especially was such a kick to the stomach :'^)

Fujimoto has a way of making his stories feel almost voyeuristically personal, where i feel like each turn of the page is me peeling away a layer of his skin to peer deeper into his soul. this tale of two young artists striving to become professional manga artists feels so, so steeped in personal experience. the inspired drive to improve your craft. the many, many, many lonely hours spent practicing. the absurd power of looking up to another artist. the immense joy of collaborating with someone you look up to. all ending in sickeningly personal heartbreak

My Broken Mariko by Waka Hirako

Manga For When You Wanna Feel Depressed

Tomoyo has just discovered that her best friend, Mariko, has committed suicide, and impulsively steals Mariko's ashes from her awful father. while not necessarily a groundbreaking plot for this type of tale, its grounded and visceral emotions feel very genuine. i also love the art--it's very charming and expressive, adding a frantic energy to many of the scenes

it's only one volume long, so i can't say too much else without spoiling stuff. just! read it!!

Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare by Yuhki Kamatani

a poignant tale of a high school boy who, after the panic of being outed as gay at school, finds a small LGBTQ community where he can become comfortable in his own skin. everyone there has their own unique struggles related to their identities, and a large focus of the story is how, despite the fact that no one there can ever completely comprehend or relate to what the others are going thru, they can still try their best to understand each other and thoughtfully lift each other up

one unfortunate thing is that the ending feels pretty rushed, but idk if it was planned that way or if the manga got axed. either way i still love this story

PLUTO by Naoki Urasawa

this was my first Urasawa manga and i've never read Astro Boy so im sure that i didn't fully absorb the sheer raw power of this combination. even so: this manga rips

the story is based off of the Astro Boy arc "The Greatest Robot on Earth," transforming it into a murder mystery led by Gesicht, a highly advanced android detective. the big focus of the story is the one great robot question: what differences are there really between humans and robots?

im awestruck by how Urasawa can make 90% of the shots just talking heads but make it work so WELL

Satoko and Nada by Yupechika

college student Satoko has decided to study abroad in the USA, but is shocked when she finds out that her new roommate, Nada, is a Muslim woman from Saudi Arabia! this is a nice little slice-of-life edutainment series, where a big focus is on Satoko learning more about Muslim culture and traditions. but it isn't just a one-way curiosity--Nada is also curious about Satoko's culture, and they share quite a bit of culture shock in America

as an American who doesn't share either of their cultures, it was always interesting to learn more about their distinct cultures and pretty funny to witness what shocked them about my own country

Wakusei Closet: Alone in the Planet by Tsubana

highschooler Aimi starts having dreams about a surreal alien planet, and soon meets another girl her age who is apparently trapped there. can they figure out what in the world is going on fast enough before alien dangers befall them?

i think im mostly drawn to the potential of this story--it presents an intriguing alien world with a captivating mystery, but when i finished the story i found myself wishing that the alien world itself was more fleshed out. it's still definitely a worthwhile four volume excursion tho

The Way of the Househusband by Kousuke Oono

malewife. guydude. scrunkly dunkly blingo blongo yakuza husband.

sometimes i wanna sit back, relax, and witness an ex-yakuza man threaten his roomba with bodily harm bc it can't vacuum corners worth a shit. he LOVES maintaining his household to the highest standards, he LOVES a good bargain sale, and most importantly he LOVES his WIFE!!!

also GOD im so glad that the humor isn't rooted in making fun of Tatsu for doing "feminine" housework, instead we're making fun of this man for his bombastic attempts at functioning within civilian society

Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama

this is definitely a powerful contender for The Most Beautiful Manga Art I've Ever Seen Ever.
the draftsmanship is WILD everything is drawn with such care, and its sort of storybook-style hatching is really charming!! also pleasantly shocked by this story's nuanced exploration of disability--it uses a magical fantasy setting to examine accessibility failures and triumphs within both educational settings and the world at large

i do have Some issues with the story's pacing (it's pretty go go go a lot of the time and Loves to end chapters on cliffhangers), but honestly i can't hold it against any comic creator for not wanting to spend 5000 real world years just to get anywhere in their story lmao

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou by Hitoshi Ashinano

iyashikei, my beloved genre............ u,w,u

do you want to sit back and relax as Alpha, an android woman, runs a tiny out-of-the-way shop in post-apocalyptic japan? of course you do. you catch glimpses of what happened to the world as Alpha goes about her laidback daily life--sand engulfs empty highways, streetlights sparkle underneath sea waves, humanity lives out its "twilight years" in an idyllic countryside. this quiet life passes by day by day as Alpha brews coffee, tools around on her moped, and snaps pictures on a camera delivered to her by a new friend. everything's wrapped in a blanket of quiet joy and melancholy, with the deep appreciation of everyday experiences that's such a staple of this genre

Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma

Yotsuba is THE tiny anime child and i WILL protect her at all costs!!!

a slice-of-life comedy but as run by the most scatterbrained energy ball of a five-year-old the world has ever seen. Yotsuba is just SO cute 😭 she runs around harassing her friendly neighbors and comprehends maybe 0.01% of objects she observes. and it's a genuinely funny story! tbh not a lot of mangas get me to Actually laugh out loud but this one did a few times

if other slice-of-lifes don't got you feeling sentimental about the little things in life, maybe seeing life thru the eyes of a chaos entity baby child will