Storytelling has been around since the beginning of man and has taken various forms. From the spoken word to written word to visual storytelling, the preferred medium various across cultures. It appears that in the western world a lot of value is placed on the written word over visual storytelling and when the two are combined (in graphic novels or comic books) the result is somehow inferior to fully text novels. As a fan of mixed media, I frequent the world of graphic novels (eg. Saga, Rat Queens, The Wicked + The Divine) and manga (eg. D Gray Man, World Trigger, Tokyo Ghoul). There is also a new medium called the ‘light novel’ that I would like to explore more.
- The term manga (kanji: 漫画; hiragana: まんが; katakana: マンガ) is a Japanese word referring both to comics and cartooning. “Manga” as a term used outside Japan refers specifically to comics originally published in Japan. (Source: Wikipedia)
Luckily, in recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of manga and light novels being licensed in North America. Many Japanese publishers such as Kodansha and Yen Press have North American branches and while they aren’t able to translate and publish one hundred percent of their titles, there are quite a few that make it across. And now, with ebooks and digital media being a thing, it’s easier than ever to get your hands on some quality manga for less than before.
Unfortunately, there are still tons of great titles that never make it to the translators and ultimately, the public. So I’m going to feature five series that I would love to see be professionally translated and published in English:
Author: Haruto Ikezawa
Genre(s): shounen, action, martial arts, supernatural
Length: 70 chapters; 8 volumes
Synopsis: Kurogane Hiroto is in high school, where he is academically the top of his class but literally the worst in physical activity. Born with a weak body, he has no endurance, speed nor strength and Hiroto wants nothing more than to be a hero. Fate teases him by giving him phenomenal eye sight, which allows him to see well beyond anyone else in sports, but his body is not able to react to any of it.
He learns from his friend Shiratori, who wants to recruit him for the Kendo team, about a rumor about a ghost named Tojo Sayuri, who wields a katana and haunts an ally in the city. Half curious, Hiroto goes there only to find that the ghost is real and that Tojo Sayuri has been looking for a successor to her Sakura sword style for 150 years. Sayuri chooses him as the successor after being able to dodge her attack and forces him to learn the Sakura style. Even with the help of the ancient swordsman ghost, Hiroto has to overcome his poor motor skills in order to be the hero he always wanted to be. (Source: Goodreads)
Haru no Houtai Shoujo (春の包帯少女) / Haru, the Bandaged Girl
Author: Mito Satou
Genre(s): romance, drama, superpower
Length: 17 chapters; 4 volumes
Synopsis: Haru, a fun lovable, easygoing guy possesses an out of control ability. A serial arsonist has been a problem for some time in the city where Haru lives. Haru’s ability flares and burns Natsu, his friend and girlfriend, half to death when he’s accused of being the arsonist and she tries to comfort him. She survives and promises to protect him and help him through the problems his ability puts him through. (Source: MyAnimeList.net)
Bungou Stray Dogs (文豪ストレイドッグス)/ Bungo Stray Dogs
Author: Kafka Asagiri
Genre(s): supernatural, mystery
Length: currently publishing (9 volumes as of December 2015)
Synopsis: Nakajima Atsushi was kicked out of his orphanage, and now he has no place to go and no food. While he is standing by a river, on the brink of starvation, he rescues a man whimsically attempting suicide. That man is Dazai Osamu, and he and his partner Kunikida are members of a very special detective agency. They have supernatural powers, and deal with cases that are too dangerous for the police or the military. They’re tracking down a tiger that has appeared in the area recently, around the time Atsushi came to the area. The tiger seems to have a connection to Atsushi, and by the time the case is solved, it is clear that Atsushi’s future will involve much more of Dazai and the rest of the detectives! (Source: MyAnimeList.net)
Kämpfer (けんぷファー) / Kampfer
Author: Toshihiko Tsukiji
Genre(s): action, romance, comedy, gender bender, superpower
Length: 15 volumes (2006-2010)
Synopsis: Senou Natsuru, an average second year high school guy, has been chosen by the Moderators to be a Kämpfer. Kämpfers are given a bracelet to activate their powers and fight the enemy. Also, Kämpfers can only be girls, so upon activation, a guy would turn into a girl. (Source: MyAnimeList.net)
Baka to Test to Shokanjuu (バカとテストと召喚獣)/ Idiots, Tests and Summoned Beings
Author: Kenji Inoue
Genre(s): action, comedy, school life
Length: 18 volumes (2007-2015)
Synopsis: The story centers around Akihisa Yoshii, the “baka” of the title. His academy rigidly divides up the student body into classes based on the results of tests. The prodigies are in the A class with reclining seats complete with air conditioning, but Akihisa is in F class, the lowest rung of the school ladder which is furnished only with low, decrepit tables and worn-out straw tatami mats. A girl named Mizuki Himeji is actually one of the smartest girls in Akihisa’s sophomore year, but she had a fever on test day and was pigeonholed into the F class. Besides Mizuki (who Akihisa secretly adores), the F class also has Yuuji Sakamoto, the class president who has been Akihisa’s friend and partner-in-crime since the freshman year.
The school happens to have developed experiments to summon fantasy creatures, and Akihisa decides to rally F class to take on the higher-tiered classes and seize their perks. The F class uses the summoned creatures in an all-out battle for school supremacy. (Source: MyAnimeList.net)