Dogs, Bullets Carnage – This title is unbridled action. It’s a bunch of broken, violent people in a violent world. The art is *very* stark, which works totally for what little of the story exists. Mostly, the story is the frame for the fighting. There is a chick with a weapon, but don’t look for more than that.
Who Would Like It: Not for beginner manga fans, but if your gift recipient thinks they’ve seen it all – here’s something with all of it at once. :-)
Kimi ni Todoke – This is one of my wife’s favorite series right now. It’s got that thing that we westerners so often miss in manga – someone who just spits it out already. The protagonist is…nice. And the fun of the series is watching everyone else realize that, too. This female lead is no typical “he’s mean to me because he loves me” heroine.
Who Would Like It: Got a shoujo fan (or closet shoujo fan) in your family or friends? Give them this for something that is totally feel-good, without making you put your brain on hold.
Black Lagoon – Girls, Guns, Drugs, and loads of crazy. This is actually one of my favorite series overall right now. As there isn’t the vaguest hint of Yuri, I have no reason to review it here, but hot damn, this is awesome manga. It’s just chockful of loony women who are armed to the teeth and not afraid to pull the trigger. Yums.
Who Would Like It: Action fans, anyone who spends a lot of time watching Spike TV and anyone who likes women who kill first, then tell you to *^&# off! later will love this.
MW – There’s a reason why Tezuka is consistently held up as a master of the craft. In this volume, he deals with “Homosexuality” in nearly as insensitive a way as possible – and it totally works. In this fraught horror story in which a broken man seeks to punish everyone for his existence, the one stable, normal and happy person is a lesbian editor who appears on only a few pages. Hardcore angst and melodrama, a fistful of self-loathing and misanthropy.
Who Would Like It: This book is great for folks who like it dark, with an even darker background for contrast and horror fans.
Aria – Nothing happens in this series. But it happens beautifully, and with grace and humor and joie de vivre. And scenery porn.
Who Would Like It: Perfect for the jaded, the cynical and any fan that still wants to recapture a feeling of childlike joy at, well, everything.
Iono-sama Fanatics – this volume about a totally lesbian Queen of some small country who happens to love girls with black hair is a very pretty and very sweet fantasy. It’s not often we get to enjoy fantasy romance that’s almost entirely angst-free.
Who Would Like It: Readers who love their manga cute, sweet, harmless and did I mention cute, will love this. It’s charming, as in “Princess Charming.” :-) (I guess that would be Queen Charming, huh?)
WORKS – I haven’t given this book enough air time, really and I blame myself. Tadeno-san has been cranking out Yuri manga since long before you ever heard of it and, although these stories are early (and therefore a little dated,) they still stand the test of time as solid looks at lesbian life and love.
Who Would Like It: Self-serving, yes. Still, a great Yuri primer for an interested adult. A good choice for a lesbian who doesn’t know Yuri yet.
Kashimashi~ Girl Meets Girl Omnibus 1 and Omnibus 2 – This silly story of a boy who becomes a girl and suddenly find herself the center of a love triangle still stands as one of the best adaptations of a manga from Japanese to English I’ve ever seen.
Who Would Like It: Not for beginner Yuri fans, but for folks who can take a handwave or two in their lives.
Azumanga Daioh Omnibus 1 – This collection is a reworking of one of the funniest 4-panel comics to hit American bookshelves to date; there’s really no downside to this volume. It’s a nice chunky book, it’s got some gut-bustingly funny bits and a lot of “heh” parts and is overall a lot of fun. And hey, there’s Kaorin and her totally hopeless love for Sakaki.
Who Would Like It: If you missed this the first time around, now’s a *great* time to add it to your wish list, or get it for a friend, then “borrow” it. :-)
Hayate x Blade – Are you totally unsurprised that this is a Great Manga Gift in my opinion? First of all – funny. Crazy, stupid, funny. Snort-Laugh Out Loud funny. Then there is awesome action. And there are girls. Almost 100% girls, who are in romantic partnerships with darn little romance, honestly, but that doesn’t stop us from projecting.
Who Would Like It: I wouldn’t get this for a little kid, because there is a lot of violence, but for anyone who is getting jaded on service and lack of plot drivers in manga, anyone who longs for action and comedy and something intelligent, anyone who wants a story written by someone who can actually write – hand them this and step back if they are drinking something.
Ed Sizemore also suggested we all add a “piece of coal” book, one that was really not good and you’d give to someone you wanted to punish. Clearly, I’d pick Mariaholic for the role. In fact, I’d give you my copy, but I put it through the shredder.
Thanks to David Welsh for coming up with this fabulous idea – and thanks to all the bloggers and readers who participate!
Now, here’s where you come in! What I want to know is – what are your Great Manga Gift Suggestions – and what book is your piece of coal? Let’s have ’em in the comments!