Gateway to Manga | T5W

Today’s T5W is my favourite topic so far, but it’s also my hardest one to put together. The topic is “Your Top 5 Gateway Books to Your Favourite Genre”. OBVIOUSLY, I’m going to recommend some good “starter manga”, but actually I don’t consider “manga” as a genre.

But, that’s a discussion for another post.

Here are my suggestions for 5 great “starter” or “gateway” manga. If you’re interested in trying some manga, you might want to give some of these a try. Or, if you want some personal recommendations, send me a message describing your favourite book and/or what you look for in a book and I’ll recommend you some good manga titles to try!


93371AKIRA / by Katsuhiro Otomo

For the American comic book reader, I would recommend Akira. I’m sure you’ve already picked this up, and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

Akira features a fast-paced, intense, post-apocalyptic, political, cyberpunk story featuring children with psychic powers. It’s a brilliant series. Plus the art in it is fantastic; more reminiscent of “American-style” comics and graphic novel work than modern manga.

It is one of the first published in English, and probably has remained published in English the longest. And it has remained in the “English” left-to-right reading orientation, which means my American comic book reading friends won’t be disoriented from the “Japanese” right-to-left orientation.

[Kodansha has announced an upcoming reprint with a reverse back to the Japanese reading direction. But all previous editions should be in the English “flopped” reading direction.]


511240YOTSUBA&! / by Kiyohiko Azuma

For the “comic strip” reader, I would recommend Yotsuba&. Though it is technically not a comic strip, it is written by someone versed in writing comic strips: a pattern of scenario/punch line stories. Kiyohiko Azuma is more famous for his 4-koma/panel comic strip series called “Azumanga Diaoh”. Now, I don’t recommend that you pick that series as a first timer, since gag-comedy doesn’t always translate very well, but his other series Yotsuba& is the perfect title for any first-time manga reader. And, especially for people who are fans of reading comic strips.

It is a genuinely funny slice-of-life comedy series about a young pre-schooler named Yotsuba, & her father, and their friends. It is incredibly easy to get into, features short stories that don’t necessarily need to be read in order, and is gentle enough that it appeals from children-to-adult readers.  I highly recommend it!


25667474ORANGE / by Ichigo Takano

This is a fairly new series, and really easy to find in stores at the moment. And, a great gateway into manga. It’s about a teenage girl who receives a letter from her future self asking her teenage self to do some things to prevent a tragedy from happening to a new student.

It’s a great series, that I think would really appeal to contemporary YA readers. Features wonderful characters, important hard topics, a great friendship, and a bit of magical realism. It’s also quite short at 2 omnibus in English (5 volumes in Japanese) so not a terribly big commitment for a first-timer.


969275DRAGON BALL / by Akira Toriyama

This might not initially appeal to you, but I recommend you read 3 volumes, and then see if you can put it down.

Akira Toriyama writes great characters, has created a fun world, and has a great sense of humor. This probably would appeal to a slightly younger audience who likes to read adventure stories, but there is enough in it to even entertain adults.

It is inspired by the Chinese folklore story of the monkey king. About Goku, a young monkey boy who meets a girl named Bulma who is searching for the 7 dragon balls. When she collects them all, a dragon will appear to grant her a wish. He joins her on her quest, and they meet many friends, and have lots of adventures.

This is also a good representation of what you can expect from a HUGE percentage of manga; particularly battle, fantasy, or sports series. It’s a foundational series, and an incredibly engaging, and fun read. I’ve read it many many times, and my love of it never wavers! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


626339NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND / by Hayao Miyazaki

If you’re even remotely interested in picking up manga, I’m assuming you’ve already dipped your toe into Studio Ghibli (pronounced GEE-buh-REE) movies, including the adaptation of this classic manga series by Hayao Miyazaki.

It’s the title that launched me into being a manga reader, and it is absolute perfection! About a poisonous post-apocalyptic world that is on the verge destroying humanity. It features Nausicaa, the princess of the Valley of the Wind, a strong young woman who has a strange and wonderful connection to the natural world. It has all of the themes that Miyazaki likes to deal with in his series: a young woman coming-of-age, flying machines, war, and environmentalism.

It’s an epic series that is beautifully written, beautifully illustrated, incredibly engaging, exciting, heart-breaking, and hopeful. I can’t recommend this enough. I think you owe it to yourself to read this series… and yes, the movie adaptation is great! but no, it isn’t nearly as great as the manga. Please read this manga!


This post was written in response to T5W (Top 5 Wednesday). T5W is a group on Goodreads that hosts weekly book list memes. Interested in joining?  Click here.


August Manga Haul | +40 more volumes

Another massive haul. This month I acquired 40 more volumes of manga. I guess I’m living up to my website name… Hopefully this will be my LAST massive haul for 2016. I need to save some money to buy more manga in 2017!


The titles mentioned in the video:

  • Attack on Titan Colossal Edition v.1-2 / by Hajime Isayama
  • Behind the Scenes v.2 / by Bisco Hatori
  • The Birth of Kitaro / by Shigeru Mizuki
  • Cigarette Girl / by Masahiko Masumoto
  • Complex Age v.1 / by Yui Sakuma
  • Cross Game v.5 / by Mitsuru Adachi
  • Genshiken 2nd Season v.8 / by Kio Shimoku
  • Giganto Maxio / by Kentaro Miura
  • Guardians of the Louvre / by Jiro Taniguchi
  • Haikyu! v. 2 / by Haruichi Furudate
  • Haven’t You Heard I’m Sakamoto v.4 / by Nami Sano
  • The Heiress and the Chauffeur v. 2 / by Keiko Ishihara
  • Hitler / by Shigeru Mizuki
  • Itazura na Kiss v. 11 / by Kaoru Tada
  • Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, part 2: Battle Tendency v. 4 / by Hirohiko Araki
  • Kaze Hikaru v. 24 / by Taeko Watanabe
  • Kinoko Inu Mushroom Pup v.2 / by Kimama Aoboshi
  • Komomo Confiserie v.4 / by Maki Minami
  • Kuroko’s Basketball v. 1&2 / by Tatetoshi fujimaki
  • Liselotte & Witch’s Forest v.1 / by Natsuki Takaya
  • Monthly Girls’ Nozaki Kun v.4 / by Izumi Tsubaki
  • Nonnonba / by Shigeru Mizuki
  • Paradise Residence v.2 / by Kosuke Fujishima
  • Princess Jellyfish v.2 / by Akiko Higashimura
  • Professor Munataka’s British Museum Adventure / by Hoshino Yukinobu
  • Queen Emeraldas v. 1 / by Leiji Matsumoto
  • Shugo Chara Chan! v.1-4 / by Peach-Pit
  • A Single Match / by Oji Suzuki
  • Sweetness & Lightning v.1 / by Gido Amagakure
  • The Tipping Point / by Naoki Urasawa, Taiyo Matsumoto, Keiichi Koike, Atsushi Kanako, and others
  • The Walking Man / by Jiro Taniguchi
  • The Wandering Island / by Kenji Furuta
  • Yona of the Dawn v. 1 / by Mizuho Kusanagi
  • Yotsuba&! v.13 / by Kiyohiko Azuma
  • Yowamushi Pedal v.3 / by Wataru Watanabe

The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown

The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think DifferentlyThe Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently by Sunni Brown

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you are already a doodler or drawer, or just aren’t intimidated by creative thinking, this book is not for you. Now, if you haven’t picked up a pencil since you were 6 years old, you might find some value here. But, I would still recommend that you supplement your “doodling vocabulary” with some basic clip-art or how-to-doodle books.

This is a basic class to get the most visually clueless to re-discover their pre-existing visual language. Or, more importantly what situations you can use your newly re-discovered visual language.

I’m a born doodler. I don’t need to be convinced to doodle… What I want is to know how to use my doodles more effectively. I borrowed this book to get tips on incorporating more visual elements into my university notes. Not to get a lecture (that I also give on a frequent basis) that everyone can doodle. In a way “preaching to the choir”, but also I disagreed with almost ALL of her arguments. That makes for an aggravating read.

I guess this book wasn’t for me. I did end up skimming most of it. Text-wise was a bit too casual for my liking. For example, am I supposed to understand the phrase,”crazy-ass importance”? What does that even mean? Why should my ass’ temperament determine the value of something?

In comparison, the text used in the info graphics (really just flow charts) was incredibly dry. Wouldn’t you have thought it would be the reverse. Use the casual text with pictures and the complex text without?

If you never draw. Believe you can’t draw. And work in a business that holds frequent team brainstorming sessions, this might be for you. The rest of us would be wise to look elsewhere.

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