Manhwa #MangaMonday Recommendations

Funny, how despite being the person who sets up these themes, they seem to spring up on me! Ack!

Today’s #MangaMonday recommendations are for manhwa. So, not manga at all… this really should have been called #ManhwaMonday. Manhwa in its simplest definition are comics coming out of South Korea. There’s more to that definition, but I’ll talk about that at some later point.

I actually have a pretty size-able collection of manhwa in my collection, but it’s something I pick up rarely to read. I think I only read 2 or 3 titles last year. And, I rarely buy manhwa. I used to pick it up because I didn’t notice the difference between it and manga, plus it was published and promoted as manga… so as a new reader, the difference wasn’t clear.

But now as a seasoned reader, I will say that because manhwa can look so much like manga that it actually shows its differences more clearly. It comes from a completely different country, so of course the stories, art, scenarios, and iconography will be different. In my opinion, this difference is one of the main reasons you or I as a manga reader should be reading them. It challenges, and hones your understanding of another comic form.

So, here are a few titles that I recommend you check out:

Pig Bride by Kook Hwa Huh and SuJin Kim.

pig 1This is a short 5 volume manhwa that I would equate to a shojo fantasy romance. At the tender age of 8 a young boy, and son to a powerful family, finds himself lost in the forest. He is found by a girl in a pig mask, who’s mother threatens not to let him leave if he doesn’t marry her daughter. He is forced into this marriage, and then sent back to his family. But, at the age of 16 this girl which he remembers from his dreams now has appeared and is ready to start their married life together.

At 5 volumes, this series is packed with unexpected twists and turns, and is a treat to read. Plus, because it’s so short, it shouldn’t be too hard to collect.

Very! Very! Sweet by JiSang Shin and Geo

very very sweet

This series is similar to the above in that it stars the self-assured and cool son of a wealthy family. His family has made a name for themselves in Japan. And, because of his behaviour he is sent to live in Korea to find his roots, and maybe correct some of his bad behaviour.

He soon develops a romance/rivalry with his new next-door neighbor. And they bond over their mutual love of cats! It’s seriously one of the cutest things. Plus the art is absolutely gorgeous!

The comparison is straight-up shoujo romance. But in this one at least, the rivalry (you know that girl who has a prior claim) is dealt with in a very unusual and refreshing way. It’s interesting to read, if only to get a new perspective on an annoying trope in manga. This manhwa, like it’s title suggests is Very! Very! Sweet and is my favourite title by this author/artist duo.

Milkyway Hitchhiking by Sirial

milkway hitchhiking

This is probably THE nicest and prettiest publication that I have from Yen Press. It’s printed in their standard large size, but they’ve used a heavy weight, thick, white, high gloss page. And the book is printed in full colour.

It needs to be in colour, as that is a primary feature of this manhwa. This is essential a series of stories about the cat from the stars. He travels to different times and locations and watches humans. Sometimes he is adopted by them, and sometimes he just sits back and observes.

It’s written in a very poetic and simple language, and is an incredibly cozy read. I would highly recommend you pick this up if you have the chance. It is absolutely a treat to look at!

I think that’s all I’m going to recommend today. I do have a few other recommendations in my video from today, too, if you want some more. Anyways, I hope I’ve encouraged you to pick up some manhwa and give it a chance!

If you would like to participate in #mangamonday recommendations on your blog or YouTube (or wherever), check out the instructions and future topics, here:


Gaming Manga #MangaMonday Recommendations

Today’s topic is “Playing Games in Manga.” It’s a popular and frequent topic in manga. Not only that, it is also a popular hobby for many manga readers.

I grew up playing games. And though, I wouldn’t call myself a gamer, I still end up playing games with friends and family on an almost weekly basis. As for video games, I think my first experience was when my father bought me my own game for the Atari 2600. Which game? Only the Best game ever!!

Okay, so maybe this is a good example of when games are better left inside the pages of comic books… [I still like it though]

Here are my recommendations for game-centric manga!


Portus by Jun Abe features video games. It is basically about a mysterious video game that has a curse on it, and when someone plays it, they take on the curse and are driven to suicide.

It is a horror manga and it is quite grotesque, so it takes a certain type of reader to appreciate it. But, if this is the type of manga that you like, I would recommend you give it a try.


Chihayafuru by Yuki Suetsugu features the Japanese memory card game called karuta. It is a josei sports manga where a young girl is getting passionately interested in the game to the point of being a professional-level player. (Apparently you can play professionally!) She is originally introduced to the game by a classmate, who quickly moves away. But, she continues to play in hopes of meeting him again.

I’ve unfortunately only read the first 2 volumes so far, since they were the only volumes that are available in print in English (or actually in a bilingual edition from Kodansha Japan). But Kodansha does have an English version available digitally on their website, and this may be the one time I finally give in and “buy” a digital copy. I’m crossing my fingers that they do a physical printing. At any rate, all I’m saying is that I think it’s worth reading!

hikaru no goHikaru no Go by Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata is a story about the game of Go (or igo). And without saying more about this manga, I can tell you it was responsible for revitalizing the game itself by creating a passionate interest in fans. Even I got on the bandwagon and bought myself a Go Board when I was watching the anime version of this.

Go is a tedious strategy board game where you place black and white stones on a grid to capture territory. It is often compared to the game of chess… but it is much, much more complicated. And, it takes hours to play a single game.

Despite the somewhat dry subject matter, Yumi Hotta has been able to create a thrilling and engrossing sports manga. This title features a strong lead character who matures and develops over the series, and compelling side characters who have rich back stories. If you’ve been avoiding reading sports manga because you don’t think it’s for you — this title will change your mind about the entire genre! It’s one of the very best!

King of cards

King of Cards by Makoto Tateno features the made-up card game of Chaos. This is a modern fantasy-style card game that is described in the manga as being similar to poker, but it looks a lot like the “yu-gi-oh” card game, and is probably inspired by it (and card games like it.).

This is a fun shojo manga where a girl gets inspired to start playing the game because she has a crush on her cousin who happens to be obsessed with it. On her first day buying a starter pack, she mysteriously receives the rarest card in the game. Now all of the gamers from miles around want to battle her to win her famous card.

So, the relationship with her cousin is a bit weird… and the games are complicated to follow and seem just a little too convenient. But, this is still a fun and compelling read with a good-hearted main character, and like-able villains. It is definitely worth picking up if you see it in a 2nd hand book shop!


The final title I’m recommending today is Kakegurui : Compulsive Gambler by Homura Kawamoto and Toru Naomura. Like the name suggests this is heavily based on games of chance. Originally I had thought this was going to be more geared toward poker but this is more based on made-up Japanese casino-style games. Some of the games were quite creative (maybe they were inspired by Japanese game shows?), and seemed so logical to play with easy to follow instructions.

This is about a school for the wealthy elite. But rather than being taught the basics like reading and writing, they are instead taught the important “business-world” skill of gambling, bluffing, and manipulation. The students are divided into a caste system, and anyone with significant losses become the school “pets”. Enter a seemingly innocent new student… who exhibits a dark and sadistic side when gambling is mentioned.

Though from an art, and story stand-point this isn’t the best series, it’s still a ton of fun to read! Plus, the games were so creative, you can’t help but want to play too. Definitely would recommend you check it out!

So, those are my recommendations this week. What are your favourite game-centric manga?

If you would like to participate in #mangamonday recommendations on your blog or YouTube (or wherever), check out the instructions and future topics, here:

Valentine’s Day Manga #MangaMonday Recommendations

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

This week’s #MangaMonday Recommendations topic is about Valentine’s day, I of course could do nothing else but recommend *shōjo manga. I’m following up from last week where I recommended short shōnen manga, by including short shōjo series in this post!

Besides being extra short, these series also feature the cutest pure-love-type boy-girl relationships. Whether you’re in love, or not, these series are sure to make your heart go doki doki!

Several of these titles are out of print, so might be a bit harder to locate. But, since they are short, shouldn’t take much to complete!


The Heiress and the Chauffeur, volume 1-2 by Keiko Ishihara

Set in Taisho era Japan, an heiress and her servant must never cross the boundaries of their station in life. They can never touch. And they certainly can never fall in love!

Backstage Prince, volume 1-2 by Kanoko Sakurakoji

I personally think Sakurakoji is better in her shortest series. Akari gets mixed up with Ryusei the socially anxious and demanding kabuki prodigy when she accidentally injures him before a performance.

Wanted by Matsuri Hino

If you love the “Princess Bride,” but wish it was even more piratey, you’ll want to read this title! Armeria’s first love Luce has been kidnapped by pirates! Several years later she has set herself on a mission, has disguised herself as a boy, with the intent to rescue Luce from the dread pirate Skulls! From the “lovely” and “fluffy” imagination of Matsuri Hino.

Miss Me? by Tomoko Taniguchi

miss me

I’m personally a huge fan of Tomoko Taniguchi, and have everything she’s got published in English. She’s one of (if not the) first shōjo mangaka published in English.

Most of the stories cross-over with each other, so you see familiar faces from other titles in each one (especially in Popcorn Romance, Call Me Princess, Just a Girl, and Let’s Stay Together Forever). I wish more manga did this – I love it! Plus, these are so exceptionally cute, I want someone else to love them as much as I do!

Miss Me? follows a stylish high schooler who has fallen in love with the lead singer of a heavy metal band. But, he doesn’t seem very interested… so, maybe she should just date his desperate band mate instead!?

Stolen Hearts, volumes 1-2 by Miku Sakamoto

6556613Stolen Hearts is actually an incomplete manga. Or, it was in publication when CMX went defunct. But, is actually on of those manga that ends relatively well, and is still well worth checking out!

This is similar in plot to Backstage Prince (above), meek Shinobu accidentally damages an antique Kimono that the scary Miharu is carrying around in his school bag. He demands reparations… which turn out to be working at his grandmother’s kimono store.

What’s this?! Now she gets to wear all of the cute kimono she could ever desire! Perhaps Miharu isn’t as mean and scary as she thought!

Punch!, volume 1-3 by Rie Takada

Rie Takada is one of my all-time favourite shoujo mangaka! Her female characters are so fun, and quirky — with huge personalities.

Punch! is about Elle who lives with her grandfather at his boxing gym. She hates boxing, and wants nothing to do with it… especially not to marry her betrothed, who is himself an up-and-coming boxer. She spends her time looking for a normal boyfriend. But when none of them can stand up to her jealous fiance, she gets help from a scrappy street fighter.

Beast Master, volume 1-2 by Kyousuke Motomi

The covers of this manga are scary, but this is anything but. Yuiko Kubozuka loves animals… she loves them so much that she always scares them away. But, then a mysterious student comes to class with his glowing animal-like eyes… just maybe she’s found an animal who will love her back!?


That’s it for my recommendations this week! Have you read any of these titles? Will you be reading shōjo manga this Valentine’s Day?


*shōjo manga is a marketing demographic for manga. It means that it was originally published in a magazine who’s target readership is girls (children through teens). Unlike shōnen manga which tends to be more of a “catch-all” or “everybody” demographic, shōjo manga tends to be more of a “niche” demographic. But more on that in a future post.

If you would like to participate in #mangamonday recommendations on your blog or YouTube (or wherever), check out the instructions and future topics, here:





Short Shōnen Manga #MangaMonday Recommendations

I’ve mentioned in my previous #MangaMonday Recommendations post that this is going to be a regular feature: every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month, I am going to recommend you manga based on a specific theme. I had also asked if anyone was interested to participate with me and recommend manga using the same themes through their own social media channels. I had enough replies that I’ve posted the upcoming topics on my blog. You can find them under the “challenges” menu at the top of any page, or go to:

Please join us!


Today’s #MangaMonday Recommendation is for short *shōnen manga series and standalones. This topic was inspired by a comment I received on one of my YouTube videos recently. (If you have any other suggestions for future topics, please feel free to leave a comment below!)

When you think about shōnen manga, what series comes to mind?

I am willing to bet that most of you would tell me about some long “battle” or “sports” series that you’ve read. It has 20+ volumes. And might even be published by a ‘little known’ magazine called Shonen Jump… Was I close?


These long, action-packed series are the show-piece of the demographic. There is a reason that they’re popular – with their strong characters, epic battles and engaging stories. They are fun to read. And personally they are some of the first series I would recommend to you if you wanted to try shōnen manga for the first time.

But, despite how long these series are, they are actually more of the exception than the rule! Japan publishes many more short series than they do these sweeping epics. But we have more exposure to these series because they are so popular, and (mostly) because the publishers of these ‘little known’ magazines have a working relationship with English-language publishers! It’s just what’s been primarily available to us.

But, even so, there are a few very short series that I think are worth reading – that have fortunately been published in English!


Cowa! by Akira Toriyama

If you only pick one thing to read from this list I would want it to be Cowa! by Akira Toriyama. This is a children’s manga (probably more geared towards grade-schoolers than teenagers), but I would easily recommend it to any reader! It’s about a young half-vampire/half-koala (or COWAla) and his ghost-friend Paifu who travel to find the medicine needed to save their village from the monster-flu. It’s a fun adventure with delightful characters, a great message (about not judging people by their appearance), a satisfying story, and charming art. Plus, the first chapter of this is printed in full colour! Well worth reading (and collecting)!

Jaco: The Galactic Patrolman and Sandland by Akira Toriyama

Akira Toriyama is most famous for his Dragon Ball or Dr. Slump series. He definitely knows what he’s doing when he’s writing manga. Whether it is one of those 20+ long series or a single volume like these, they are worth your time! You will definitely notice a parallel with these to Cowa! and the original Dragon Ball series. They all feature a young protagonist who is on a quest/adventure and aided in his journey by a reclusive and lonely older man. The characters are engaging, the adventures are fun, and everyone learns a heartwarming lesson. Plus, if you’re already familiar with, and like, Dragon Ball Z (in particular) you will love Jaco! His story takes place in the Dragon Ball Z universe, and even crosses-over some familiar time-lines.

1435390 Gon by Masashi Tanaka (any volume)

When I was originally trying to construct my list I wanted to only share with you series that were 3 traditional volumes/digests of manga or less. Gon is a 7 volume series. But, I’ve included it here because you don’t need to read all of it to enjoy it!

The story follows a small T-Rex who lives in the natural world. It is a completely wordless (devoid of both text and sound effects) and follows a small animal doing what you’d expect animals to do. Sometimes he is helping other animals, sometimes he is fighting other animals, but mostly he is just trying to enjoy his life. Despite the lack of text, this is an engaging “read.” The art is highly expressive and articulated — and a pleasure to look at! Plus, since this is essentially a compilation of short stories, you really only need to read and buy the volumes you’re interested in.

Switching gears a little…


Someday’s Dreamers by Norie Yamada and Kumichi Yoshizuki

This is a two-volume shōnen manga about a young magic-user in training. She leaves her quiet town to go to Tokyo and take up an apprenticeship. This apprenticeship is a stage she needs to pass in order to get her license, and make magic her career.

Don’t let the cover of this fool you. This is shōnen manga. It definitely has a different feel to the battle and sports series you might be used to: more similar to A Silent Voice than to One Piece.

This series seems more interested in getting into the minds of its characters than in plotting a complicated story. And at only two-volumes does a surprisingly good job of this.

It is out of print, so it will be a bit harder to locate. But, if this is the type of manga you like, you’ll find it worthwhile adding to your collection. I would urge you though, to avoid reading the description on the back of the book. Or at least, don’t believe everything it says. Someone compared this manga to Sailor Moon + Harry Potter. If you go into this manga thinking that you’ll get the flavour of either of these, you will be incredibly disappointed in it!

If you like this, there’s also a 5 volume follow-up series called Someday’s Dreamers Spellbound – and an anime adaptation that’s worth checking out, as well!



*shōnen manga is a marketing demographic for manga. It means that it was originally published in a magazine who’s target readership is boys (children through teens). Now, shōnen tends to be considered more of a “catch-all” or “everybody” demographic. But more on that in a future post.

Meta-Manga! Recommendations #MangaMonday

If you haven’t heard the term “meta-manga” before, it’s probably because I made it up. The modern use of the term/prefix “meta” generally refers to “x” about “x.” I am very familiar with this concept because I work closely with “meta-data” which is “data” about “data.” In the case of manga, a meta-manga would refer to “manga” about “manga.”

I LOVE meta-manga! There’s something so exciting about reading a manga that is completely self-aware. It’s a bit like watching a movie and waiting for that moment when someone actually speaks the line that is also the title of the movie. It’s a strange and fantastic moment.

There are SO MANY meta-manga to choose from. What manga-ka (manga author) wouldn’t want to write or illustrate something they know about as intimately as their own job? Here are some of my favourites:

ONE. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun by Izumi Tsubaki.


This is a shoujo 4-koma manga (4-panel comedy manga originally marketed to girls) about a high school student named Nozaki who draws shoujo manga for Monthly Girls’ Magazine.

It begins with his cute classmate confessing her love to him and Nozaki, being so completely clueless and unable to focus on anything but writing manga, thinks she is asking for an autograph – and later convinces her to help him work on the actual manga itself.

Throughout the series you meet many other quirkly classmates each with distinct personalities and each with a hidden link to Nozaki’s manga.

The 4-koma format is a little jarring to get used to, as the story doesn’t flow like regular manga. It is really based on a “punch-line” format… similar to say…”Foxtrot.” But, over time as you get used to the format, the flow, the comedy, the characters, it becomes more-and-more enjoyable.

If you’re not sure you’ll like reading the 4-koma format I would highly recommend watching the short anime adaptation of this BEFORE getting into it.

TWO. Flower of Life by Fumi Yoshinaga


This one has been out of print for a while, and will be a little bit hard to find if you’re interested in reading it. But, I really wanted to include it on this list because it’s wonderful!

This is the story of three boys who become friends in high school due to their mutual interest in manga.

Harutaro Hanazono has recently recovered from illness, and is returning to school a year behind everyone else in his class. He becomes fast friends with the shy manga fan Shota Mikuni and the antisocial otaku Kai Majima. Together they form a manga creator’s club with the hope of getting published.

This is a sweet story with one of the best depictions of pure friendship that I’ve read in manga. I highly recommend it!



THREE. I’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow / by Shunju Aono

This follows the pursuit of a dream to become a manga-ka (manga artist) by a 40 year old slacker. This is a wonderful drama.

FOUR. Insufficient Direction / by Moyocco Anno

Get an inside look into the life of a real manga-ka and her famous anime director husband. This isn’t recommended to new fans, the pop-culture references are constant and obscure. But, it’s a delightful story.

FIVE. Genshiken / by Shimoku Kio

This is easily one of my favourite series. It follows a college otaku club in their pursuit of everything nerdy! Shimoku Kio has written likable and believable characters, in obsessive detail. A fun story that follows the passion and pursuit in both consuming and creating self-published (dojinshi) manga.


SIX. Kingyo Used Books by Seimu Yoshizaki

71NgzWH7-bLThe meta-manga to lead the way for all other meta-manga, Kingyo Used Books features a used book store that has everything any person could ever need… manga!

Though it is much longer in Japanese, it only made it to 4 volumes in English, which is an absolute shame. This is a must read for any manga fan.

This manga is your mantra!

This is a series of short stories featuring a used manga shop. Patrons don’t always know why they’ve entered the shop, but there is always something they are looking for… and before they know it, they’ve found it in manga.

I won’t say that every story in it is great. Actually some of the short stories are a bit contrived, and even boring. But, there are a few gems in every volume that make this worth picking up. Plus, as a manga fan, nothing makes me happier than finding a manga that preaches the very thing I do “manga is for everyone.”

It’s a cheerful collection that proves the merits and value of reading manga. If you’re a fan of manga, I would urge you to pick up this series!


Something new that I’ll be doing on this blog (as well as my YouTube) is post a list of themed manga recommendations every 2nd and 4th Monday of the Month (I hope). I’m going to be calling this series #MangaMonday. I know other people have used #MangaMonday as a themed “thing”… but frankly, I didn’t know what else to call it… and so many different people are using #MangaMonday for different purposes that I didn’t think it would hurt to add another voice to this particular hashtag.

Like I said, I’ll be posting twice a month. If you’re looking for content for your blog/youtube channel and want to participate in this too, let me know. I’ve been considering sharing my list of topics ahead of time for others to join in.

Or, alternately, if you want manga recommendations on specific topics send me your suggestions! I have a list of topics I’d like to talk about, but I can easily change them and talk about titles that people actually want to hear about!