Rather than give a lengthy introduction, permit me to launch into these manga reviews/recommendations which I had promised back in June without further ado:
1) Coppelion by Tomonori Inoue
I don’t think I’ve yet reviewed this manga, the first story arc of which is now animated. For those of you unfamiliar with Coppelion, there has been a nuclear disaster in Tokyo. The radiation is so bad that the Japanese government has stopped sending in rescue teams to help anyone who may have survived. But as of the start of the manga, they have developed genetically engineered clones called Coppelions who are immune to radiation for this purpose. Our heroes are three of these Coppelions, Ibara, Aoi, and Taeko. In Tokyo, they discover that not everyone wishes to be rescued and that some of their sisters start to run amok.
As fun as the first story arc of the manga was, the second one is even more exciting. Most of you are not familiar with Akihiro Ito’s Geobreeders, but both mangaka have their love of action sequences and great fights in common–as well as a similar lighthearted feel. The action only gets more wild in the second half. Plus, there is much more political intrigue.
So, I’d like to recommend this manga to fans of the anime and those that love action-packed stories.
2) Ore ga Doutei Sutetara Shinu Ken ni Tsuite by Mario Morita
This is a rather odd story for me to pick up, as may be seen from the title: “About How I Die if I Lose My Virginity.” But, this story about time travel, escaping death, and sexual morality had me hooked for its twenty-two chapters. It does have a fascinating concept: a playboy realizes too late the harm he causes by his Don Juan lifestyle until his friend murders him. However, he’s given a second chance to go down to the past in order to prevent being killed in the present. He discovers the easiest way to prevent his death is by remaining chaste, which leads to both hilarity and deep observations on the pitfalls of promiscuity. The ecchi and sex have a point in the context of this story, but my dear readers may wish to avoid it all the same.
I’d especially recommend the manga to those who hated the ending of School Days.
3) Rolan the Forgotten King by Yoshino Takumi
This fantasy is dark–not as dark as Akame ga Kiru, but very dark all the same. The story concerns a mercenary in dark clothing who saves a damsel threatened with marriage to a heartless tyrant. (I’m a romantic, if you haven’t been able to peg me as one yet.) This leads to a series of adventures where our mercenary and bodyguard hero, Rolan, seeks the help of a Mazoku* in making his and Etoile’s escape. After he makes the Mazoku’s acquaintance, it is discovered that he’s the reincarnation of their king. This leads to Etoile and Rolan’s return with several great battles and combat. Some of the characters and situations are fanservicey, but the manga does not go overboard.
Perfect for the lover of dark fantasy or chivalric tales.
4) Toraneko Folklore by Azuma Mayumi
This stands as a apparition/demon-slaying manga; but, it has a good sense of humor and a punkish feel. The protagonist, Nogi Touto, in particular is mistaken for a punk; though, he is a nice guy of the strong, silent type. While transferring to a new school, a friend gives him a charm and he befriends two loners. One of whom is interested in the supernatural. This friend leads Touto into his first confrontation with an apparition, where he discovers that his charm can transform into a powerful goblin woman. (The translators call her a goblin, and I have no better name for the therianthropic creature she is.) The fights in this manga often rely as much on the characters’ smarts as their strength.
This manga on several levels is quite average. If, like me, you enjoy monster-slaying stories with a sense of humor, you’ll like this one.
* Mazoku is translated as demons; but Mazoku are not Akuma, which is the Japanese term for what Westerners calls demons or devils. Mazoku may be malevolent, but they might also be halfway decent like Xellos in Slayers or rather decent like certain of Maoyu‘s characters. I also prefer keeping Youkai as Youkai. It’s so hard to find the Western equivalents for the creatures of Japanese folklore!